Change Management and ICD-10

By Jerry Williamson, MD, MJ, CHC, LHRM, CHCQA

As we approach the October 1 deadline and officially begin documenting and billing our diagnostic codes using ICD-10, my thoughts are on the process of change management. Over the past several years there have been volumes written and numerous national meetings to discuss both the advantages and disadvantages of implementing the updated coding system. So what is actually taking place here? Change!

Major change in any organization can be frightening and quite challenging. In general, change management is the method of developing a planned approach to transition in an organization. The objectives are to benefit from the collective efforts of those involved in the change and limit failure risks when implementing the change. Also, since change management deals principally with the human aspect of change, it is important to understand the psychodynamics of change. With ICD-10, perhaps the most difficult phase is the organization’s ability to win the buy-in of its key employees, in this case the physicians.

For organizations and physician practices to be successful in this transition, there must be successful communication informing the healthcare team of reasons for the change, the details of the change, and the benefits of successful implementation. This involves education and training of ALL individuals involved in the new process, and alleviating fears they may have. Significant changes in any organization, such as ICD-10, will require determination and responsiveness.

ICD-10 is becoming a reality and there are many benefits the system will provide to both caregivers and patients. To paraphrase, “‘the time has come,’ the Walrus said,” (Lewis Carroll, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872) to embrace the forthcoming changes and to be fully prepared before the October deadline. Failing to do so will place physician practices and healthcare organizations in serious risk.

Jerry Williamson, MD, MJ, CHC, LHRM, CHCQA, has over 30 years’ experience in private practice and healthcare management. He is a frequent lecturer and consultant. Williamson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at The Florida State University

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