November 26, 2013

Healthcare’s Sornberger: Traveling at Twice the Speed of Light

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Editor’s Note: For another installment of profiles of thought leaders in the healthcare industry, ICD10monitor’s publisher recently interviewed healthcare executive-turned-healthcare consultant Lyman G. Sornberger.

Having stunned the healthcare industry with his abrupt departure from the famed Cleveland Clinic Health System (CCHS) in November 2012 for what he told the Cleveland Plain Dealer were personal reasons – adding that “we are separating on good terms” – Lyman G. Sornberger, 54, has become a man on a mission with a burgeoning private practice and a growing list of clients seeking his advice as they transition to ICD-10.

 

In interviews on Talk-Ten-Tuesday, Sornberger often would cite CCHS as being an early adopter of the new coding system, which becomes effective Oct. 1, 2014. He joined the clinic in 2006 as its executive director of revenue cycle management following a 22-year engagement at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center as a leader in revenue cycle management there.   

On his watch at CCHS, Sornberger oversaw the management of revenue cycle operations for the system’s 10 hospitals, including 1,600 foundation physicians.  Sornberger’s responsibilities included the management of more than 1,880 system employees in all.

Today, the peripatetic Sornberger is the president and CEO of LGS Health Care Consulting, with a roster of 120 clients.

The fashion in which our interview was conducted – via a string of emails – is indicative of his fast-paced schedule. “I returned from Atlanta last night after a week, and (I’m) off to Ft. Lauderdale and Orlando this week and then to Atlanta … the following,” Sornberger wrote, adding that “I have the UAE every morning from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m.”

Explaining why he won’t be available to participate as a guest panelist on an upcoming Talk-Ten-Tuesday broadcast, Sornberger explains that his schedule on that particular day won’t work.

“Unfortunately I am in Boston all day that day for a board meeting,” he wrote. “Let me know if there is another Tuesday that works.”

Here is our email exchange focusing on how Sornberger responds to what he is hearing from clients and others as the healthcare industry moves forward with its implementation of ICD-10.

BUCK: Where do you call home these days?

SORNBERGER: Today, Cleveland, but relocating…looks like Nashville.

BUCK: How often are you on the road these days?

SORNBERGER: About 20-25 days a month.

BUCK: What prompted you to leave the CCHS?

SORNBERGER: (After) 28 years in operations and (having) only worked for two $6 billion organizations, (it was the) opportunity to work on my own.

BUCK: What were some of your most notable accomplishments at CCHS?

SORNBERGER: Consolidating four business offices into one with a 2,000 (person)-staff (and) preparing them for an Epic systems conversion for 11 hospitals. (I was the) sponsor of (the) ICD-10 program, (and) shaping healthcare and revenue cycle in UAE-Middle East.

BUCK: What are you doing in Dubai?

SORNBERGER: Preparing them for ICD-10 migration and auditing revenue cycle performance.

BUCK: How long have you been consulting since leaving CCHS?

SORNBERGER: Chuck, I have consulted for several years but now (I am) dedicated to the role as CEO and president for less than a year, with over 120 clients and five on permanent retainer.

BUCK: What are you telling your clients about ICD-10?

SORNBERGER: This is going to happen. Are you prepared operationally, financially, and are you proactive? 

BUCK: Where are your clients in terms of their implementation of ICD-10?

SORNBERGER: Continuous assessment of internal and external readiness… loading ICD-10 content, clinical, and dual-coded integrated testing.

BUCK: From your vantage point, how do you see the industry moving towards implementation?

SORNBERGER: It’s all about the project plan and timing now.

BUCK: Among providers and stakeholders, who seems to be lagging in terms of I-10 implementation?

SORNBERGER: Both are lagging from different perspectives.

BUCK: What is keeping your clients and colleagues up at night regarding ICD-10?

SORNBERGER: The cost, risk, and time commitment. 

BUCK: What’s keeping you up at night?

SORNBERGER: First, enterprise training of all constituents (and the) impact to financial performance, and managing this in context of other projects and industry changes.  Second, the readiness of payers and vendors that are beyond my sphere of influence.  Third, securing the resources that are needed to backfill for employees/ contractors undergoing ICD-10 training and the expected loss of productivity.

BUCK: How long will ICD-10 be a relevant subject for consulting services?

SORNBERGER: At least two years from actual implementation date, therefore at least till 2016.

BUCK: What’s the next big healthcare issue along the lines of ICD-10?

SORNBERGER: (The) new CMS midnight rule and accountable care organizations (ACOs) using the value of ICD-10 to manage patient admissions and quality outcomes.

 

 

Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.
Chuck Buck

Chuck Buck is the publisher of ICD10monitor and is the executive producer and program host of Talk Ten Tuesdays.