How to assess healthcare vendor readiness

Healthcare vendor readiness is about ensuring vendors can accommodate your ICD-10 needs.

There are basically three elements to the assessment:

  • Identify your vendors
  • List and review contracts
  • Evaluate vendor offerings and capabilities

This means contacting vendors to find out if they will meet the ICD-10 deadline and asking:

  • Will your products be ready for the ICD-10 compliance date?
  • Will a mapping or crosswalk strategy be used between ICD-9 and ICD-10 code sets?
  • What is your timeline for system modifications and what do those modifications include? Make sure testing is part of the timeline
  • Will you continue to support applications or are you discontinuing some products in the wake of the ICD-10 transition?
  • Are there any new hardware requirements associated with ICD-10-related software changes?
  • What are the costs involved? Will modifications and upgrades be covered by existing contracts?
  • Will customer support and training be provided for any new ICD-10-related functionality, and is there a charge?
  • Is there a phased approach for implementing ICD-10?

As a result of this process, you may decide that you need to develop new new vendor relationships. The questions you will need to ask new and potential vendors will be slightly different:

  • Will your products be ready for the ICD-10 compliance date?
  • How does your product simplify my organization's transition to ICD-10?
  • How does the functionality offered by your system compare with my current system?
  • Does your implementation require a complete system conversion?
  • Based on what I already have in place, how much will it cost to convert to your system?
  • What are the costs of maintenance for your product?
  • Will there be training for your products available?
    • Does training cost extra?
    • How much time will training take?
  • Who in this area is using your current system?
    • Talking to vendors' existing clientele in your area about their experience with that vendor may help you identify if the vendor's services are a good fit for your organization.
  • What kind of product quality guarantees do you offer, and are these guarantees included in the contract?
  • What is your timeframe for implementation?
    • Does that timeframe include testing?

Dual coding

It looks like healthcare providers are going to need the ability to use the ICD-9 and ICD-10 code sets at the same time. If not for the sake of medical coder practice or revenue cycle modeling, you need both code sets for testing. Questions to ask about maintaining both code sets

  • Will the product or service handle ICD-9 codes and ICD-10 codes at the same time?
  • How long will both code sets be supported?
  • Does data storage capacity need to be increased?
  • Will the ICD-9 data be accessible?
    • For how long?
    • Who can access it?

Once you find out everything you need to know, it's time to develop timelines with each vendor. Don't forget to plan contingencies if vendors don't meet deadlines.