Time for ICD-10 tools is now

By Mike Miliard
09:47 AM

Katie Carolan, director of operations at Baltimore-based Health Record Services (HRS), spends a lot of time giving presentations at state American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) shows and talking to her own clients about the looming switch to ICD-10. How prepared are people to meet the October 2013 deadline?

"They're not," she says.

Speaking with Healthcare IT News in Sept. during AHIMA's Annual Convention & Exhibit in Orlando,  Carolan says she usually tries to stimulate discussion, asking audiences who's gotten started and what they've accomplished so far. If there are 100 or so people there, seldom are more than two or three hands raised, she says. And "the farthest along anybody really is, that I've heard, is that they put a team together."

So what's the answer? To put the fear of God into people? Or to hold their hands?

"A combination of the two," says Carolan. "As people get their teams together and start talking about what needs to be done, all of a sudden it seems overwhelming. So they're going to be looking for the support – because they don't have the resources; this is not something where you can do your regular job as you try to manage a project like this."

So HRS was touting its "Team 10" at AHIMA – a group of certified trainers and implementation specialists who are trying to spread the word and impart a sense of urgency nationwide about ICD-10, offering coding and auditing resources, organizational readiness assessment, implementation planning, project management, clinical documentation improvement, and post-implementation performance assessment.
HRS also put together a detailed timeline, mapping out the benchmarks providers should plan on meeting over the next three years. "We're saying, 'We can help you in these ways. You should be starting by these dates,'" says Carolan – who notes at the same time that, "we don't want to panic people, so we've already bumped some of those dates back."
Indeed, says Bonnie Cassidy, vice president of HIM product management at Reston, Va.-based QuadraMed (and in-coming president of AHIMA), "a lot of people think you can do ICD-10 maybe six months before it starts. But you have to be prepared. And you have to have a project plan now, to work it for two years."

QuadraMed has its own ICD-10 Countdown Program, which features solutions and educational services to help guide providers of all sizes and stripes through the transition process. Rather than simply offering conversion tools to map ICD-9 to ICD-10, says Cassidy, Quadramed provides hands-on training, consulting services and technology so coders start gaining expertise in ICD-10 now in order to minimize workflow disruptions later.
Central to this mission is QuadraMed's next-generation Quantim solution, which was unveiled at AHIMA. Featuring search engine tools and computer-assisted-coding capabilities, the technology provides a "holistic" way to smooth the bumpy ride away from ICD-9.

Whereas some tools might have a select number of diagnoses and procedures, says Cassidy, "ours is the entire ICD-10 and all of ICD-9 – it's a real, live working simulator."

"We've coupled coding and compliance together," she adds, "and we have both inpatient and outpatient. Other vendors might have inpatient here and outpatient there. Ours is completely integrated."

Another exhibitor at AHIMA was 3M Health Information Systems, which showed off its new 3M ICD-10 Code Translation Tool, which is now integrated with 3M’s Healthcare Data Dictionary – a medical vocabulary server that's been maintained and expanded for 15 years. The result is a one-stop solution for translating and converting ICD-9 based applications to ICD-10.

Together, those two applications enable the creation and storage of customized ICD-9 and ICD-10 mappings, and leverages the vocabularies of the Healthcare Data Dictionary to provide coded, computable data that people can understand and software applications they can use and process in real-time, execs say.

“Integrating these two applications helps organizations take immediate action to convert information systems, update processes, and prepare for ICD-10 implementation,” said Ray Terrill, senior vice president for 3M Health Information Systems. “Beginning the transition process now allows facilities to take strategic advantage of ICD-10’s potential for in-depth analysis of disease patterns and treatment outcomes, streamlined and accurate reimbursement, and overall healthcare quality improvement efforts.”

As seen at AHIMA, there's no shortage of products and services aimed at ICD-10 conversion. The important thing now is to get more people adopting them – and quickly.

"You really need to get started," says Carolan. "But don't panic. There's a lot of people out there who can help."