How to get the most out of your ICD-10 vendors

By Carl Natale
08:56 AM

Even large hospitals with large healthcare information technology (HIT) departments will have to work with vendors to implement ICD-10 coding.

Here are some steps for everyone to get the most out of your vendors:

Inventory your vendors

You need to list who you're already working with and who you need to be working with:

  • List software or systems that require conversion to ICD-10 and what vendors provide them. These are products affected by ICD-10 codes and generate/receive/forward ICD-10 codes.
  • Determine which version is in use and which version will be ICD-10-compliant.
  • Determine the vendor who owns the product and collect the contact info for the vendor.
  • Look out for products that have changed names.
  • Review each vendor contract.
  • Determine processes that need vendor support for ICD-10 coding.
  • Contact vendors about upgrades and business needs.

'I'm not going to pay a lot for this software!'

This is probably going to cost a lot of money. But there are ways to pay less for HIT:

  • Decide what tools the physicians really will need not what is cool now. Conduct an organization-wide needs assessment.
  • Find out what upgrades are scheduled.
  • Hurry up and take your time. Yes getting this project finished is a priority but spend enough time making a sound decision.
  • Find out all the costs - software, hardware, installation and training for example.
  • Join forces with competitors. Some rural hospitals form IT coops to realize economies of scale when buying tech.

Note that it is possible to under-pay too. The result could be tools that don't do everything you want or don't comply with upcoming regulation.

Set up a relationship

There's more to vendor relationships than negotiating a price and signing a contract. You need to make the vendor part of an ongoing project.

  • Assign dates to tasks and track progress.
  • Keep in contact with the vendor.
  • Create testing and remediation timelines.
  • Define readiness.
  • Agree to actions if tasks or readiness aren't achieved according to timelines.
  • Create a contingency plan that has dates for finding new vendors to complete the tasks.

Many vendors use the term "partner" frequently. Make sure they are true partners and your success truly means they succeed. While that may mean consequences if they do not deliver key elements, it also involves working well with vendor personnel. Don't treat them like the hired help.


Carl Natale blogs regularly at