AHIMA CEO on ICD-10: 'We are ready'

'If they're worried, they're not talking to me about it.'
By Bernie Monegain
10:42 AM
Lynne Thomas Gordon

AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon says she's confident the transition that begins Thursday will go off with few, if any, glitches. As she sees it, all of healthcare will be better for it.

When ICD-10 was mentioned during the opening of the organization's 87th Annual Conference in New Orleans, the audience broke into spontaneous applause, Gordon said.

While ICD-10 will continue to be on the front burner for some time to come, the organization whose members are health information management professionals, there are two other critical initiatives already under way: Information governance and a national patient matching strategy.

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Gordon talked with Healthcare IT News Tuesday from Ernest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans.

Q. What do you hear from AHIMA members about whether they're ready or not for ICD-10?
A. I don't think we've have this great turnout if they were all worried about ICD-10. Of course, out members are getting ready. I will say this: There was spontaneous applause and great fanfare when it was announced Monday. We were kicking off the convention and talking about ICD-10 would be here in just a few short days, and the audience broke into spontaneous applause. We are ready. Let's just do it.

They can see the limitations of ICD-9. It's been over 30 years. It's time to get a new classification. I think they're just saying: 'Come on! What's the problem? Let's go!'

Q: Is there a worry about it at all?
A: If they're worried, they're not talking to me about it. They are just saying, 'we're so happy it's coming. We're so happy it's coming.'

Q: Are you a little nervous about it?
A: Just excited. Great quality information leads to great healthcare. I think because we will have better codes, it will turn into better information. In turn, it will turn to better research, better patient outcomes, so, I am excited. I think our members are ready.
Q: Besides a smooth transition to ICD-10, what are AHIMA's other top priorities?
A: The big news at this year's convention that everybody is really excited about is we introduced last year in October the principles for information governance. And when we talk about information governance, we're really talking about information as a strategic asset. In order to do that you have to make sure it can be trusted – that it has integrity.

What's changed is that in the old days we had paper records, and you had your HIM professional overlooking paper, and really had control and could audit and look closely. Now we've got this plethora of electronic record systems. I think we had one hospital with hundreds of different systems of electronic health information.

Our goal is to work on how do you advance across the continuum. We are offering what we call a 'pulse rate,' just like a patient would come into the office, and they take your vital signs, this is a way to take a really short quiz, 'Where are we? How are we doing with our information governance?'

After the first of the year we will use information we have from 11 pilot sites – 39 different settings, everything from academic medical to RHIOs and HIEs and community hospitals. We are piloting our information governance model as well as our principles to get best practices, feedback. We will, then, with our adoption model take all that information and build it into a more robust model, which we're calling Health Right.

Q: Not for clinical information alone?
A: Because information really is a strategic asset, the way you collect it, you store it, you use it, it's not just for your clinical information. It should be for your revenue cycle information. It should be for information in your HR department. And, your business partners. It's just like water. If water is corrupt one place, and you pass it along, it's going to be corrupted another place. We feel information is the same way. So, we want to make sure that information throughout the healthcare continuum and within the hospital, not just the clinical information can be trusted.

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