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Customer Experience and Design

ICD-10 on the Floor of the Conference: What’s the Buzz all about?

What a Day! I have come to view HIMSS as the source for what’s happening in healthcare. Today was not different – the floor of the conference was abuzz with folks asking (in almost a whisper):

“Will ICD-10 really be enforced by CMS come October 1st, 2013?”

“Will we really need to have all of our systems switched over to accommodate ICD-10?”

And my favorite: “CMS will grant extensions to Providers – right?”

As I wandered through the maze we call HIMSS 2012, booths that featured anything to do with ICD-10 Assessment, or Remediation, were packed (ok, it is HIMSS) with people needing the answers to these questions. As I listened to the questions and responses I began to realize that the folks asking the questions were looking for answers that relieved their fears and anxiety – too bad, they will not get the ‘right’ answers they were looking for.

I say this not because I have a crystal ball and looked into it, or that I am in the know I know the answers because I heard these same questions last week in a Town Hall conference call with Congresswoman Jackie Speier. In this Town Hall meeting, there were a number of healthcare executives asking the above questions expecting Ms. Speier to save the day and share what CMS was really going to do and when.

One could hear a pin drop (and on the phone that is quite difficult) waiting with bated breath for the answers. What we heard was not what was expected…

To the question: Will ICD-10 really be enforced by CMS come October 1st, 2013? – the answer was a soft-spoken, but clearly pensive response: Yes, the CMS mandate will be carried out as stated by CMS at this point in time. This could be taken in any number of ways, which was, from my perspective, what she wanted (or needed) to say. After all, she does not have a crystal ball either.

To the question: Will we really need to have all of our systems switched over to accommodate ICD-10? This was a question Jackie could not answer, but she did her best by handing it off to her go-to guy at her district office.

He addressed the question by backing into it – he began by clarifying that if CMS is going to need all claims submitted in ICD-10, it would appear “common sense” that a hospital would need to make sure they were prepared to file any claim in ICD-10 format.

At the completion of his response, it was as if the phone line was cut – the person asking the question thanked “Mr. Go-To Guy” and I guess was either out of questions or stunned by the response…

To the question: CMS will grant extensions to Providers’ – right? This was an easy question for the Congresswoman to answer., Her response was the same I have given when asked a question dealing with the future: “It depends” was Ms. Speier’s retort. Then she gave some pithy examples, however as the caller continued to want a definitive answer, the Congresswoman continued to hold the line: “it really does depend on many factors that we to take into account.”

Oh well, so much for getting answers from the horse’s mouth. Perhaps tomorrow as I roam the HIMSS Conference floor, some in the know vendor will have the right answers – I guess “it depends” on who I ask…

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