Commentary: ICD-10, meaningful use not aligned

By Carl Natale
10:19 AM

There's a way to soften the impact that ICD-10 implementation has on your budget. It involves working on ICD-10 and Meaningful Use compliance as the same project.

That kind of packaging can save time and money. Plus the Meaningful Use incentives can help defer the costs.

In theory, that should work very well. But David Saintsing, director of business development at Convene Technologies, explains a big problem with that theory. Many small hospitals and medical practices do not have enough cash to purchase an all in one package. They need to spread projects across budgets.

[See also: Why smaller hospitals face bigger challenges to implement ICD-10 coding]

Fair enough.

There's a second problem that Ryan Sandefer, chairman of Health Informatics and Information Management department at The School of Health Sciences at The College of St. Scholastica, in Duluth, Minn., shared with me. "Meaningful Use is kind of the short-term windfall, if you will. If they can just achieve Meaningful Use, they can offset some of the costs of these information systems. They're not thinking of ICD-10 yet - unfortunately. They just started planning which is kind of crazy if you think about it."

[See also: HIM Education: Learning how to leverage data generated by more ICD-10 codes]

Sandefer worked with a small hospital and helped them get some data templates for achieving Meaningful Use. When  he suggested bringing in the ICD-10-transition team to make sure the templates would work for both initiatives, the hospital people replied, "We never thought of that." They told him, "But that's a good idea."

"If this is a problem in Minnesota, it's a problem everywhere," says Sandefer. He believes there are so many initiatives that the industry as a whole is struggling to understand there are opportunities to synergize.

Which falls in line with Saintsing's assessment that healthcare information managers are not able to keep up with all the information they need. Which is a little frustrating. How many times can I write about ICD-10 implementation and Meaningful Use as complementary initiatives?