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Here’s a top 10 list of things to think about this coming month to get you moving in the right direction.

1.   Have a formalized plan.

If you do not have a documented project plan with assigned responsibilities, milestones, resource needs, etc., you do not have a formalized plan.

2.   Develop a project timeline for decision-making.

The longer you take to make a decision, the less time you’ll have for your implementation plan. See 5010 experience for details and motivation.

3.   Don’t try to boil the ocean – start with a simmer (but start now!)

Remediation for ICD-10 during the next 18 months will be a fluid process with many decisions being made and many outcomes depending on unknown variables. Don’t start with perfection, work towards perfection.

4.   Strengthen ICD-9 processes.

If you have operational deficiencies in your current processes, they will only get worse with ICD-10.

5.   Prioritize impact effort (i.e. implement an education plan for physicians on documentation and meaningful use)

What is the saying again? He who fails to plan, plans to fail.

6.   Assess your resource plan and delivery capabilities.

Hoping for the best is not a feasible strategy for delivering on this initiative. Take a realistic viewpoint for your business case as it pertains to resources. If you think you can accomplish all the required tasks and activities with your existing staffing compliment, then you are grossly overstaffed – and we know that is not the case.

7.   Align your project management and team structures.

If you have the same six people on different steering committees, you probably have an opportunity to align your team members to become more effective in driving these initiatives.

8.   Evaluate your strategic project plans and coordinate your return on investment for these multiple initiatives.

Turn this into a strategic advantage and work collaboratively with overlapping initiatives such as meaningful use and EMR implementation.

9.   Recognize that ICD-10 is not a deadline – it’s a beginning.

I repeat, ICD-10 is not a deadline – it’s a beginning. The work does not end in October 2013. That is just when we will realize how prepared we are for the change.

10.  Understand that things will change and adapt to the changes.

Being flexible has always been and always will be a key to business success. Remind yourself of that when an unexpected situation requiring a change in direction arises. You will find the journey a smoother one if you keep this in mind.

About the Author

John Pitsikoulis, RHIA, is a Strategic Advisory Services Client Executive and ICD-10 Practice leader at CTG Health Solutions (CTGHS). John is responsible for the strategic advisory services such as ICD-10, EMR clinical documentation integration program, and Computer Assisted Documentation Services. John has over 25 years of Health Information Management (HIM), coding, and compliance consulting experience working with clients on ICD-10 services, RAC, coding, and clinical documentation improvement engagements.

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