Dwan Thomas Flowers, MBA, RHIA, CCS, senior health information management consultant, is a speaker for the HIMSS virtual event, “ICD-10: One Year Out,” which will take place on Wednesday, Oct. 2. Registration for this event is free of charge.
She is an independent consultant, and AHIMA-approved ICD-10-CM/PCS trainer, working with a large firm to assist with large payer transitions to ICD-10. Formerly, she served as a manager of special projects across the revenue cycle, a director of health information management (HIM), a performance improvement specialist and in several other coding, educational and leadership roles. She is involved in several healthcare professional associations, including the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), the Florida Health Information Management Association (FHIMA), and HIMSS, where she is the former chair of the ICD-10 Task Force.
HIMSS: How did you become involved with HIMSS?
Flowers: A previous employer held membership at the organizational affiliate level, which included individual employees. One of my revenue cycle project responsibilities was the task of creating the ICD-10 Enterprise Training Plan. As a HIMSS member, I was invited to join the ICD-10 Task Force. This involvement eventually led to other volunteer activities, such as participation in the Interoperability Showcase™ during the HIMSS annual conferences, speaking engagements, instructional webinars on how to use industry tools and authoring several white papers and articles.
HIMSS: What has been the most rewarding aspect of your involvement with HIMSS?
Flowers: Serving as the HIMSS ICD-10 Task Force chair has been most rewarding. Helping guide passionate people toward actionable items is exhilarating. Seeing tangible tools within the HIMSS ICD-10-PlayBook as the ultimate outcome and knowing these tools are a result of the task force’s tireless efforts is quite fulfilling. Getting to know the other members who share a mutual interest is also rewarding. Lasting relationships are formed, and you will always know a friend in the industry.
HIMSS: What are some of the greatest challenges healthcare organizations are facing in regards to adopting ICD-10?
Flowers: There are several challenges; however, among the most critical are subject matter expertise, funding for such a comprehensive project, and testing within the appropriate timeline. Preparing existing staff and partnering with competent experts may be the single most important aspect of the ICD-10 transition. It is paramount that the appropriate training and ongoing education are made available to those responsible for execution of the ICD-10 plan. Additionally, the impact of ICD-10 is deep and permeates throughout an organization. Securing the funding for systems upgrades, resources, vended products and services, training and education, additional staffing to offset the anticipated adverse impact to productivity and to the flow of the revenue cycle can be a daunting task. Also, with the timeline being what it is today, if the organization has not prepared a plan for testing both internally and externally, it may prove difficult to contact external partners and agree upon how to test every process to decrease the amount of surprises during implementation.
HIMSS: Please briefly describe the HIMSS/WEDI ICD-10 National Pilot Program.
Flowers: The HIMSS/WEDI National Pilot Program was an exercise in national end-to-end testing of ICD-10 healthcare claims. All levels of ICD-10 stakeholders were invited to join. Approximately 180 medical records were donated by various providers in various settings to be coded in ICD-10 and processed to extent possible. Payers, providers, clearinghouses, professional heath information management and coding organizations, as well as billing associations, participated. Lessons learned and best practices for testing will be published to assist the industry with its testing plans and methodologies. Additionally, the test cases, including the de-identified medical record documentation, are available within the HIMSS ICD-10 PlayBook to download, free of charge. Due to time and resource constraints, not all aspects of the process were able to be covered within the pilot; however, the ICD-10 National Program will pick up where the pilot left off.
HIMSS: What will be the main focus of your discussion during the Oct. 2 event?
Flowers: The main discussion will focus on what can be done post-implementation to ensure that revenue is protected in those critical first months of ICD-10 impact. It is important to note that the transition is not over on Oct. 1, 2014. Those organizations that have had the foresight to take measures to protect their revenue stream during initial period of uncertainty will surely have put themselves in a better position for fortifying their finances.
HIMSS: What advice would you give professionals just entering the healthcare or IT field?
Flowers: New professionals should take pride in having selected a sustainable, yet ever-changing career field. There are so many aspects to the healthcare and IT fields; there is little chance of boredom. The best advice is to remain current with regulatory changes, find your passion within the field, and network with others who share that passion. This will lead to longstanding fulfillment in current endeavors as well as a healthy forecast for future, increasingly-stimulating endeavors.