September 29, 2014

Dateline San Diego: AHIMA: This is What is Happening in San Diego

By Maria T. Bounos, RN, MPM, CPC-H

As always, AHIMA delivers a great convention filled with the latest and greatest industry knowledge and technology! Two of the greatest and most meaningful takeaways this year are related to Big Data and ICD-10, both of which tie nicely together.

I had the pleasure of listening to Dr. Karen DeSalvo, National Coordinator for Health Information Technology who provided the Federal update. At ONC, Karen leads the charge to promote, adopt, and meaningfully use health information technology so that patients receive better care, lower costs in healthcare, improved health, and ultimately improved lives. Her message was spot on, as she spoke of the industry’s need for Big Data in order for healthcare to evolve.

While her career began in the basement of a hospital, like many HIM professionals, today, not only as a practicing physician, she leads the way to standards and policy surrounding privacy and security, HITECH, and meaningful use. While in this position for less than a year, she is working to advance meaningful use—currently in the midst of the second of three stages of implementation. The ultimate goal is to go beyond meaningful use and big data to improve the population, advancing healthcare through Health Information Technology (HIT).

Big Data, Big Hurdle

One of the biggest hurdles with HIT is that although the data is being captured, it is in silos. So now interoperability is more important than ever. Eric Topol, MD, described our industry as “data hoarders,” in that only 5 percent of the industry can analyze data at the point of care.

As a nurse, the sessions at this year’s convention deeply resonated with me. Practitioners, in general, whether they set out to become a nurse, doctor, or therapist, to name a few, have one goal in common—to provide excellent quality patient care. Somehow, with all of the shortages, reimbursement challenges, and little use of data analytics, that has become challenging for many healthcare providers. With ICD-10, we know we will have better quality data to improve patient outcomes and overall healthcare.

And yes, I’m going there: ICD-10. It’s almost a bad word, depending on whom you are having a conversation with on the convention floor! To be honest, most really want the implementation date to commence October 1, 2015, and some just don’t believe it will ever happen—“Maria, you know it is an election year!” AHIMA continues to be vocal and will always have our back with ICD-10.

Big News: Advocacy

The most current news is that AHIMA has launched a grassroots advocacy campaign so that members can alert Congress of the overall importance of ICD-10 to the healthcare industry. The goal is to unite all of the state associations so that we can prevent another ICD-10 implementation delay. Yes, I said it—there is a great need to prevent another implementation delay.

Nauseating, I know, but reality. While Day One is complete, I look forward to the next two days of the convention. Today, Tuesday,  Sept. 30, there will be a Town Hall Meeting regarding ICD-10—I cannot wait to attend! The goal for the Town Hall is to discuss the campaign and its progress, public policy, and outreach and updates from D.C.

According to AHIMA’s director of congressional relations, “there is legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate that would seek to ‘kill’ ICD-10CM/PCS implementation.” I gasped too when I heard of this! The bill, HR 1701/S.972, the Cutting Costly Codes Act, will be active until January 3, 2015. There is a possibility of the bills to be reintroduced by the 114th Congress in 2015. It is more important now than ever for AHIMA members to be active and proactive in their advocacy efforts.

As I leave Day One with great energy and excitement for the next few days; I plead with all of the Talk Ten Tuesday listeners and readers out there. ICD-10, although challenging for many to implement, is a must for the industry to move forward.   

About the Author

Maria T. Bounos, RN, MPM, CPC-H, is the practice lead for coding and reimbursement software solutions for Wolters Kluwer.  Maria began her career at Wolters Kluwer as a product manager, responsible for product development, maintenance, enhancements and business development and now solely focuses on business development.  She has more than twenty years of experience in healthcare including nursing, coding, healthcare consulting, and software solutions.

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