October 23, 2012

Assessing ICD-10 Readiness: An Industry Overview

By Dennis Winkler

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first of a two-part series about ICD-10 readiness.

If you read enough about ICD-10, you’ll hear differing opinions about industry readiness. In some reports, a majority of entities are close to being on track and in others the entire industry is lagging dangerously behind.

It seems everyone has a different idea of readiness, what it means and where everyone else stands on the ICD-10 readiness continuum. Overall it appears that readiness estimations are as varied as the groups that provide them.

The disparity in the ‘where the industry stands’ leads to confusion and difficulty in determining next steps. After all, if you’re not sure who is behind in the ICD-10 transition how can anyone offer help? How would you know what type of help to offer if you don’t know how much work an entity has left to do? Is it even possible to offer next steps for some of the uncharted territory that is part of the ICD-10 transition?

Even more important than the confusion is the fact that a lack of surety about readiness also leads to inactivity. As we all know, inactivity is especially dangerous for the ICD-10 transition.

One thing we do know is that there is a lot of work to be done for ICD-10 – we just need to figure out details behind all that work.

Perhaps the issue lies in the overall concept of assessment. After all, there really isn’t one good way to gather an accurate and thorough assessment for payers and health care providers.

The Problem with Assessments

A major difficulty in getting an accurate assessment of readiness is that we are constantly discovering new impacts between ICD-10 and our work environments. There seems to be a lot of unknowns with this transition and the more we discover, the more work we have to do.

When assessments are done and analyzed, we have to realize that these are self-assessments and that means that there will most likely be consistency and objectivity issues associated with self- assessments.

Another issue with taking the industry temperature on ICD-10 is that this particular transition gets to the core of how we work together within healthcare. The codes touch each and every one of us and are used in every step along the way. This means that we’re all dependent on one another for the overall success of the transition. That’s something that we haven’t really had to deal with in recent memory. So we need to find new ways to work together and to help each other so that the industry as a whole can transition successfully.

Essentially, until we can define all the impacts of ICD-10 on our daily lives, create and conduct consistent and objective assessments  and figure out an efficient and effective way to work together on the transition, we will continue to struggle in identifying and reporting an accurate picture of overall industry ICD-10 readiness.

In the next installment, we’ll look at things we can do to start making an accurate and thorough assessment of readiness and what that will mean in the future.

About the Author

Dennis Winkler is the Technical Program Director of Program Management and ICD-10 for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan and Blue Care Network of Michigan. He is responsible for ICD-10 program direction and is the IT business partner for Medicare Advantage. Dennis graduated with distinction from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. He spent his first 11 years of his career with Anderson Consulting (now Accenture); specializing in large, complex system development projects. Winkler joined BCBSM in 1998 and since has been responsible for leading major enterprise programs including HIPAA 4010 implementation, Social Security Number elimination and the National Provider Identifier initiative, among others. He has spoken at several national summits and seminars about ICD-10 since BCBSM began its ICD-10implementation.

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