Featured Articles: ICD-10

Puh-lease! This Elephant is Killing Me!

Friday, August 16, 2013   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joy Ingram
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by Lynn Gerlach, Member Services Manager

My friends, I’m trying to get your attention. Have you noticed? It’s about this ICD-10 thing. You know – that “healthcare Y2K deal” you’re trying to ignore? Personally, I don’t know a lot about physician coding and billing, but I do know this elephant is killing me!

October 1, 2014 seems like such a long way off, I know. And you’ve got Outreach & Enrollment now, and you’re still working on PCMH recognition, and there’s a big old ACO knocking on your door while you’re thinking about payment reform and your patient portal and where you’re going to get the clinicians you need to take care of all those new patients… I know, I know. (On second thought, maybe this elephant sitting on me isn’t so bad after all.)

So, I don’t work in a community health center, and I never did. But here’s what I do know: When another huge wave is coming, it probably makes sense to move to higher ground sooner rather than later. Especially when NWRPCA has just pulled up with a bus and opened the door and invited you for a ride to safety.

And this time I’m driving the bus! So I really know the route (even if I don’t know a single ICD-9 code), and I’m really sincere when I say: Puh-lease, will you get on board already?!  I understand training and preparing for something new costs money, but I shudder to think of the cataclysmic cost to you if you do nothing. Recently Community Health of Central Washington took me up on my offer and signed on for ICD-10 training with PMG, the vendor who knows coding for CHCs like nobody else! (Yes, for CHCs. No “translation” required.)

I asked Paul Kaschmitter, CFO at Central Washington, why they chose to invest in PMG’s biggest package of services, and this is what he told me: "I looked at it as an investment.  The more we can be prepared to meet the demands of ICD 10 the better off we will be. I cannot afford to jeopardize cash flow so need to make sure that not only our providers are well versed in ICD 10 but the staff as well.  PMG seemed to offer that approach looking at the entire impact of ICD 10 as opposed to just the provider coding education.  We are looking forward to working with our project manager."  

Des Skubi of Interfaith Community Health Center recently signed on for a package almost as broad as the one Paul chose. I asked him why he had faith in PMG as the ICD-10 trainer for his entire staff, and he said, "We chose to go ahead with PMG based on our longstanding relationship and the trust I have in their trainings and their commitment to Community Health Centers."

Now, you probably think I’m a little ahead of myself in pushing preparation for something so far off. I mean, October 1, 2014?? We’re all racing to be ready for October 1, 2013!! I get that. And I’m sorry I keep offering you so many options and reminding you to take advantage of them. But this ICD-10 thing – this is a big elephant, and it could crush you next year if you don’t plan ahead now.

End of sermon. In a perfect world, every one of our health centers will be coding in both version 9 and version 10 a year from now, finding all the bugs, perfecting the system, and getting everyone up to speed before the deadline. But it’s not a perfect world. I don’t expect this elephant to go away tomorrow. I only hope that, one month from now, you will have at least contacted PMG, and I’ll have a somewhat lighter creature weighing me down.

By the way, I just talked to Paul Ferrazza at PMG (August 16, 2013), and he told me they have extended the deadline to purchase the gold and silver packages (the ones that provide on-site training and/or a PMG project manager), but they will probably have to stop taking requests for those big staffing commitments sometime in October. (And yes – ahem - I do mean this October.)  (Thanks! I hope to get up and dust myself off and get my spine straightened out in time for our Fall Primary Care Conference in October!)

NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.

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