If I Were AHIMA and Wanted to Ensure ICD-10 Wasn’t Delayed Again

Posted on September 12, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been working on my schedule for the AHIMA conference happening at the end of the month (officially I think they call it the AHIMA Convention). As I’ve looked over the various meetings and topics that will be discussed, I’m once again faced with the ICD-10 discussion.

I’ll admit that the ICD-10 discussion feels a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day. A little reminder of the movie (man I need to rewatch it):

Much like Bill Murray, I think we’re entering the same ICD-10 cycle that we were in last year. People warning about the impending implementation of ICD-10. People talking about the need to train on ICD-10. The impact of ICD-10 on revenue, productivity, software, etc etc etc. If it feels like we’ve been through these topics before, it’s because we have.

I previously posted an important question, “What Would Make Us Not Delay ICD-10 in 2015?” Unfortunately, I think the answer to that question is that right now nothing has changed. All of the reasons that someone would want ICD-10 to go forward and all of the reasons that ICD-10 should be delayed are exactly the same. I’d love to hear from people that disagree with me. Although, so far people have only come up with the same reasons that were the same last year.

That doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause for organizations like AHIMA that really want ICD-10 to go forward. They could do something that would change the environment and help ensure that ICD-10 actually happens in 2015. (Note: When we’re talking about DC and congress, nothing is certain, but I think this strategy would change the discussion.)

If I were AHIMA and wanted to push forward the ICD-10 agenda, I’d leverage your passionate community and be sure that the story of ICD-10 was told far and wide. The goal would have to be to create the narrative that delaying ICD-10 would cause irreparable harm to healthcare and to millions of people.

I imagine a series of videos with HIM people telling their stories on the impact of ICD-10 delays. These stories aren’t hard to find. Just start by looking at the AHIMA LinkedIn thread about the 2014 ICD-10 delay. Then engage the AHIMA community in social media and provide them the tools to spread these videos, their own stories, and other pro ICD-10 messages far and wide. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling.

Also, you have to change the conversation about the impact of ICD-10. Far too many proponents of ICD-10 just talk about how it’s going to impact them individually. These individual stories are powerful when creating a movement, but the people in Washington hear those stories all day every day. They don’t usually change decisions based on a few heartbreaking stories. So, you have to illustrate to those in Washington that the impact of another ICD-10 delay is going to cause some harm to the healthcare system. This is not an easy task.

A well organized effort by AHIMA and other organizations could really gather steam. Enough calls, messages, and letters into Congress and they have to take note. It’s a feature of the way their systems are done. Although, a few responses won’t work. It has to be a real grassroots wave of people talking about how delaying ICD-10 is going to cause major issues. The biggest challenge to this is that it was delayed this year and what was the impact?

Of course, the other option is to hire a lobbyist. They’re going to tell the same story, but in a much more direct way. If AHIMA and other ICD-10 proponents don’t work hard to change the narrative of ICD-10 through a lobbyist or a grass roots campaign, then I don’t see any reason why ICD-10 won’t be delayed again. The good part is that any effort to do this will likely be supported and amplified by organizations like CMS. The bad part is that other organizations like the AMA are fighting the opposite battle. However, being quiet means that the other side wins by default.