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The Coalition for ICD-10 presents the third installment of its Member Spotlight series with the focus on Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM).

By Dennis Winkler, Director of Technical Program Management and ICD-10 for BCBS of Michigan

When news of the ICD-10 implementation delay came, we at BCBSM had two thoughts: First, what do we have to do to accommodate the delay and secondly, how do we help to avoid another delay. It was similar to questions that entities around the country were asking themselves. The first question was relatively easy to answer – we simply executed the contingencies we had defined as we started our ICD-10 program. The second question required a lot more thought and consideration.

When looking at how to avoid another delay, you have to understand the reason for the initial delays. The predominant reason for delaying ICD-10 was lack of industry readiness. As we looked around our landscape we saw that certain entities were having a more difficult time getting ready for ICD-10 than others. One area of focus that we decided to concentrate was the smaller professional health care provider practice.

From past surveys and discussions, we knew this segment of our provider population was deeply concerned about the time and money it would cost to transition to ICD-10. So, in collaboration with several other payers, we decided to try and help demystify the ICD-10 transition.

The group of payers that we work with met several times to begin comparing notes and having discussion around our experiences with health care providers and ICD-10. This gave us a common understanding of what everyone was seeing in the industry. Then, we thought it best to start out by gathering health care providers by specialty (pediatrics, cardiology, etc.) to talk to them about ICD-10.

Our main goal is to get the provider specialties to understand that the ICD-10 transition, especially in the short term, isn’t about understanding every nuance of every code. Rather, it is about the common ICD-9 codes – or high impact codes – they send us today and look at translating them into appropriate options for ICD-10. This way, the universe of codes that they have to look at went from hundreds and thousands down to a select handful. We center on the wide variety of existing resources (from CMS, AHIMA, AAPC and other industry-recognized experts, some of which are free) to help counteract the cost concerns.

To accomplish this, we will conduct focused sessions with each specialty. Whether it’s a webinar or a face-to-face meeting, having time set aside to help health care providers work through the process of the transition is bound to have an impact on readiness.

It won’t hurt either having multiple payers join us in this endeavor ….in the same room and/or same webinar at the same time. With more voices behind the message, it becomes clearer and clearer what needs to be done.

As we work through the remainder of 2014, we’re largely trying out the message on multiple pilot groups and refining our script and processes in the hopes of being fully ready to serve our health care provider community in 2015 and do our part to complete the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

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