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Let ICD-10 implementation and Meaningful Use work with each other

  
  
  
ICD-10 and Meaningful UseBy Carl Natale, ICD10 Watch-  Now that it's 2012, and you have reached HIPAA 5010 compliance, it's time to work on your electronic health record (EHR) and Meaningful Use initiatives. Or do you need to start ICD-10 implementation next?

It depends on who you ask. In a recent ICD-10 Watch poll, 23 people responded to the question "Which project needs to be completed first?"

  • 30 percent chose EHRs.
  • 26 percent chose ICD-10 implementation.
  • 43 percent said that both need to be done at the same time.

If you take a look at those numbers, 56 percent of participants said that it's an either/or choice. (It also doesn't add up to 100 percent due to rounding.) There are providers who see the projects as needing to be done one at a time.

George Schwend, president and CEO of Health Language, doesn't see it that way. "I see them as extremely aligned and complimentary initiatives," said Schwend. "I think most of the noise is coming from the folks who are trying to figure out what they're going to do first, second, third. And they're feeling overwhelmed."

But there are strong advantages for making them one project. Schwend sees Meaningful Use as an exercise in language. It translates the vocabulary that physicians use into codes - like ICD. Which is what Health Language does. "We provide tools to manage code sets in healthcare and make it a lot easier to maintain them and operate them and advance them as things change."

"Do Meaningful Use and ICD-10 at the same time because they overlap so greatly. And the requirements for both are  intertwined so deeply," said Schwend. "So do them both at the same time so you end up with better results."

And then there is the cost.  "I think the cost is reduced because you can do them both at the same time." reduce overlapping exercises and administrative costs. It doesn't make sense to Schwend to tackle them separately unless there resource restrictions that prevent providers from paying for a bigger project in one budget cycle."

Some of those costs will be spent anyway. Some large providers have plans to upgrade systems in place. Meaningful Use and ICD-10 coincide with those timetables. "Things are constantly being changed and upgraded." But Schwend doesn't see it as a mass upgrading movement. HIT departments are on different schedules.

Then there are the federal incentives that can be used to offset the cost of implementing both initiatives. The cost of DC-10 goes down if much of the work is done in conjunction with Meaningful Use.

That isn't Schwend's area to discuss. Those incentives are being pursued separately by clients without involving Health Language. But what Schwend can discuss is where he says is the real savings.

"Where the real issues of cost savings come in is having the ability to have tools that will take a look at cases after cases after cases of how you map from your ICD-9 to to ICD-10 and are you going to lose money or make money," said Schwend. "Because the way you map - legitimately map and correctly map - can vary dramatically and you can either make more money or lose money if  you do it one way or the other."

He says Health Language clients are using these tools now to make sure they don't have any surprises in 2013. By using the right tools, Schwend says providers can make sure they get the best returns possible. And by the right tools, Schwend means EHRs that are ICD-10 compatible now.

"You're going to save money in the long run if you do them at the same time. But it's not ust saving money. It's getting it right the first time."

 "If you get all the data into Meaningful use, and then into your ICD-10 exercises, you got a plethora of information to really take advantage of  better heath care patient safety, all of those things."

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