ICD-10 earth­quake caused barely a shake

Modern Healthcare - - HEALTH IT - By Joseph Conn and Bob Her­man

The troops, 125 sol­diers, hud­dled around mon­i­tors in war rooms set up in Kansas City, Kan.

Strate­gist Mike Hourigan had de­cided what they needed to be ready for bat­tle was food.

“All kinds of stuff, pizza, soda, cof­fee and bagels,” Hourigan said.

They waited and lis­tened for the first shot, sched­uled for mid­night, Thurs­day, Oct. 1, 2015.

But then, “We haven’t heard of any­thing,” said Hourigan, di­rec­tor of con­sult­ing and reg­u­la­tory strat­egy at health in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ven­dor Cerner Corp. The na­tional con­ver­sion to ICD-10 di­ag­nos­tic and billing cod­ing on its first night was run­ning pretty smoothly.

And were the troops ready at Cerner’s head­quar­ters to han­dle prob­lems, ques­tions and crises?

“For a lot of time, they didn’t have a lot to do,” Hourigan said.

One of the most maligned and feared events in healthcare history be­gan with a whim­per.

“I think, by and large, at least the peo­ple we’ve worked with, they have done so much prepa­ra­tion that they’re ea­ger,” said Ed Hock, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor and ICD-10 guru with the Ad­vi­sory Board Co., a healthcare con­sult­ing firm. Health IT cognoscenti pre­dict most providers of size—large hos­pi­tals and health sys­tems, large physi­cian groups and large health plans—can han­dle the nu­mer­ous, com­plex and very spe­cific new codes.

If larger or­ga­ni­za­tions ex­pe­ri­ence cramps, they prob­a­bly will ap­pear later as kinks in their cash flows caused by de­lays in re­im­burse­ments.

The or­ga­ni­za­tions most likely to have trou­ble, how­ever, are smaller providers and health plans, which lagged in im­ple­ment­ing IT up­grades and train­ing to han­dle the more ro­bust ICD-10 codes.

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