Chief Knowledge Officer: Will ICD-10 create a new breed of healthcare executive?

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

After Oct. 1, 2013, what are you going to do with all the data that your ICD-10 codes will contain? There are a lot of arguments that it will help transform patient care. But how?

This was discussed greatly at last week's American Health Information Management Association’s (AHIMA) 2011 Convention & Exhibit and Bernie Monegain reported on one such idea for Healthcare IT News. There's a call for hospitals to create chief knowledge officer (CKO) positions that can assemble and interpret data. The CKO would be an internal entrepreneur who could lead the organization to better ways of doing things.

Which is what we need to help make healthcare more affordable. Another hospital executive. I'm sure they will be able to use the ICD-10 data to build better business models for healthcare providers. Of course that's not the same thing as reducing the cost of healthcare.

In reality, the healthcare information management (HIM) leader probably will take on CKO skills. This could transform some IT departments from tech support into education centers.

But the idea isn't all about high-priced C-suite talent. There will be a need to interpret data in even small medical practices:

Medical coders have an opportunity to become analysts

Whether they can learn to interpret the data for financial or clinical analysis, medical coders are in a good place to explain to their physicians what the data means. It's either that or someone is going to hire consultants.

In addition to medical coding and physiology training, medical coders should gain financial and statistical skills. This would make them key resources in any practice that didn't have the knowledge that enables them to make better business and clinical decisions. None of the benefits of ICD-10 matter unless there is someone to turn the data into knowledge.

Healthcare insurers and government agencies are going to be using the data. Practices need to have their own understanding to be able to help their patients instead of waiting for more mandates from a national level.

While a small practice may not be able to afford a CKO's salary, it can afford to reward the medical coder who makes him or herself more valuable.