Goodie bags and war rooms: Inside hospitals' day one of ICD-10

'I've yet to hear any horror stories'

Most providers say that the transition to ICD-10 has generally gone smoothly—but that the real test of how the switchover is going won't come for a few weeks.

'Yet to hear any horror stories'

Thursday's switchover date from ICD-9 to ICD-10 had been years of preparation and many months of training in the making, and several hospitals have put processes in place to best ensure a smooth transition.

New York-based Columbia University Medical Center is one of several systems that has set up a "command center," which has a dedicated hotline and email address to help quickly resolve ICD-10 issues. The center will also help to track trends and keep departments updated on how the transition is going.

Paul Sternberg, Vanderbilt University Medical Center's CMO and chief patient experience officer, told the Tennessean that the hospital has IT staff and a help desk on call, but that "everything seems to be on target," adding, "Right now the word that we're using is 'uneventful.'"

According to the Advisory Board Company's Ed Hock, most providers he has spoken with have had similar experiences. "I think, by and large, at least the people we've worked with, they have done so much preparation that they're eager," he told Modern Healthcare. "I've yet to hear any horror stories."

Hock told Healthcare Finance News that he spoke with dozens of providers on Thursday morning, and only heard of two issues: a hospital system whose coding system went down as the result of issues with its vendor software, and another organization that had a glitch in its implementation system that caused initial claim denials.

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Real test to come

Meanwhile, many experts emphasized that the true test of the ICD-10 transition will come in a few weeks, when providers begin to see ICD-10 claims being returned.

Beth Israel Deaconess CIO John Halamka told Politico's "Morning eHealth" that his hospital is "fully prepared," but added that "it takes a village to be successful" and that payers will need to be ready, too.

Meanwhile, Barbara Manor, VP of health information management (HIM) at Sisters of Charity Health System, told HealthIT Analytics that her system will continue to monitor progress of the transition, in part by having regular meetings of its high-level steering committee. She said that the committee has set meetings "at least through December, and they're willing to keep meeting if we need to after that."

It's here: What to expect from the ICD-10 conversion

And Debbie Schrubb, corporate HIM director for Ohio-based Kettering Health Network, says that her organization is planning to compile metrics daily for the next several weeks to assess productivity and will share the results with finance executives.

"We're going to monitor the coders every single day" and will determine who may need additional support, she says.

Supporting staff

Schrubb also says that her organization is prioritizing making the transition as positive an experience for staff as possible. Kettering Health Network is giving its coders "survival bags," filled with a gas card, encouraging quotes, and some Tylenol.

And Stephen Stewart, interim CIO at Pennsylvania-based Schuylkill Health Systems, told HealthData Management that his organization is catering lunches for staff and taking other steps to keep morale high, "because it's going to be a tough couple of weeks, particularly coming out of the block" (Morse, Healthcare Finance News, 10/1; Fletcher, Tennessean, 10/1; Bresnick, HealthITAnalytics, 10/1; Conn, Modern Healthcare, 10/1; Frieden, "The Gupta Guide," MedPage Today, 9/30; Gillespie, HealthData Management, 9/28; Tahir, "Morning eHealth," Politico, 10/1).

What the Advisory Board's experts think of ICD-10

Listen to an this week's episode of the Weekly Briefing, where Dan Diamond quizzes Ed Hock on what providers need to know about ICD-10 implementation. Their conversation begins at the 20:40 mark.

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You have a lot to do for ICD-10. We help you do it right.

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For more information about Revenue Optimization Compass, or to request a demonstration of the technology, please contact Erika Renson at or 202-568-7932.

Want to hear more from Ed Hock? Join him on an Oct. 20 webconference where he'll share our latest findings on a post ICD-10 world.

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