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testing, evaluation, revisions, more testing and evalu- ation – the less it will cost in the long run.

Available resources With the perception of a long lead time, many CEOs may consider it more cost effec- tive to undertake the changes in-house. The IT division lead- ership should know whether its employ- ees possess the skills and knowledge to take on the project, or whether the or- ganization would be better served by hir- ing new employees or contracting out the work.

Given the impor- tance of getting ICD- 10 implementation done correctly by the deadline, this will take active involve- ment by the leader- ship team, with tan- gible milestones that can indicate if the project is on track.

Communications This is an easy as- pect to overlook, but just as critical to suc- cess as all the other

tient care is a challenge. Again, however, having three years to make the change allows for greater fl exibility. The CFO can help by providing an estimated return on investment. If the organization starts now, what is the burn rate? How prepared will it be for the change versus starting lat- er, burning through more resources faster and running a higher risk of missing the deadline?

Training coders You may have no- ticed there’s been no mention of training the coders, the peo- ple who actually will be most affected on a day-to-day basis by the shift. This is actu- ally one of the easier aspects of moving to ICD-10.

The chief technology offi cer has to assess existing systems to identify which ones will be affected by the change. At the same time, the chief fi nancial offi cer should look at how the change will affect billing, insurance carriers, physician practices and patients.

components. Change is always hard, and if funds have to be diverted from one part of the organization to invest in the ICD-10 project, there will be resistance. Physicians may be eager for the information that ICD- 10 will provide but not realize there will be changes in the systems they are now comfortable using. Only the CEO can speak to all the different – and, occasionally, competing – communities within the organization and lay out the reasons for the change and why it is worth the cost in money, time and routines.


It’s a hard truth of the healthcare industry: Finding the funds for any project not directly related to pa-

The training on the new coding needs to be done fairly close to the implementa- tion deadline (four to six months in ad- vance); any earlier and they may need refresher training. The American

Academy of Profes- sional Coders (www. devotes an entire section of its

Web site to ICD-10. There’s even a countdown clock to show how many days, hours, minutes and seconds are left before the shift must take place.

Commit now to ease implementation ICD-10 is coming, whether your organization is prepared for it or not. With it comes the prospect of improved diagnosis and treatment that can save patients’ lives. Getting there may be a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be a hasty, costly process. If the leadership of every organization is willing to step up and commit now all necessary resources to planning, then implementation will become an orderly transition.


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