HIMSS on charting an ICD-10 course

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

Healthcare organizations need to complete certain steps each year between now and October 1, 2013 to successfully meet the ICD-10 mandate on time. And thorough planning can be the difference between making the transition as smooth as possible and facing unforeseen potholes. 

"Guesswork will leave you with flat tires and unexpected results," explains Tori Sullivan, chair of HIMSS ICD-10 Task Force, and a manager in CapGemini's healthcare division. “The bottom line is get started so you have enough time to adequately complete testing.”

So, move right away. That sounds straightforward enough but with many folks likening ICD-10 to Y2K or HIPAA before it the question is: Where does a healthcare organization even begin?

[Related: ICD10Watch explains Why 2010 is the pivotal year for ICD-10.]

In a Webinar on Wednesday titled "Develop and execute on an ICD-10 implementation plan: What you need to know to get started," Sullivan outlines the basic elements HIMSS recommends.

The quick take is that an ICD-10 implementation plan should begin by formulating an overall organizational strategy and a schedule that includes risk assessment, impact assessment, estimating the project's budget, a communication plan, testing, and ultimately plans for both go-live and post go-live activities.

Boiling that down a bit: To draw up an organizational strategy, HIMSS recommends identifying project resources, outlining a project approach and deciding how to handle change management. From there, create a schedule of which tasks to complete each year. During 2010, for instance, Sullivan suggests tackling impact and gap analysis, as well as risk assessment and project budgeting.

A well-plotted impact assessment starts with information management people, technologies, and processes, and drills deeper into all, unique to each healthcare organization. Within risk assessment, define and rank risks based on probability and impact, identify triggers, write a response and a contingency plan, then monitor progress.

Project Budgets, meanwhile, need to include software modifications, contract updates, contractor fees, training, change management, and support services.

Sullivan said that it's best to keep the communication plan simple by understanding the audience and the content they're comfortable with.

"Testing is going to be significant," she says. Identify functionality that needs to be tested and verified, assign specific people to test various elements, and know where your software vendors stand in their own testing.

The go-live plan needs to be comprehensive enough that healthcare organizations identify participants, define roles, arm themselves with necessary tools, establish a process for reporting problems, and have a contingency plan. “Obviously, identify milestones, know what you need to meet those, and what happens if you don't meet those milestones,” Sullivan urges.

And after that go-live day, October 1, 2013, Sullivan recommends a postmortem of sorts that involves evaluating success, recording lessons learned, and assessing the project for future improvement.

ICD-10 "is not a one-day occurrence," Sullivan says. "This go-live will be ongoing."