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After a bevy of happy hours Monday night, we returned to HIMSS bright and early Tuesday morning to begin the new day. The keynote speaker was Eric Topol, MD, director of the Scripps Translational Science Institute.

His talk focused on the engagement of the patient and the future of healthcare. Dr. Topol discussed the rapid adoption of the smartphone and how that is changing the patient–doctor relationship. He detailed the use of social media and online health communities within healthcare as well as the rapid advancement of gnome technology. He focused on these uses to offer better quality of care at reduced cost. It was an eye-opening talk. We still don’t know what was on the back of his suit jacket.

I-10 Breakout Session

The most ICD-10-relevant breakout session today was titled “Looking Beyond Compliance: How to Achieve Strategic Advantage From ICD-10,” presented by Geisinger Health System. The session was surprisingly packed, since straight ICD-10 sessions have been pretty light on the HIMSS education session agenda the first two days.

The discussion focused on how to prepare your organization for ICD-10. Some of the key items highlighted were strong project management, following the ICD-9 code to identify areas where codes are used, accurate system inventories, and the use of heat maps to identify high areas of risk for your organization. Overall, the session was well presented and provided good information for providers having trouble getting their ICD-10 projects off the ground.

National Pilot Testing Program

After the breakout sessions were over, we attended the ICD-10 National Pilot Program: State Collaborative Meeting. This meeting proved to be extremely informative and laid out the plans to move to a type of national collaborative through the HIMSS National Pilot Testing Program. Representatives from the states of California, Washington, and Minnesota presented the status of their states’ collaboratives, which contain providers, vendors, and payers. These groups all work together to tackle the problems presented by ICD-10. In some of the states, participation is free, and some charge a fee, but all have an overall goal of making the ICD-10 conversation as painless as possible for the state.

One interesting tidbit: One of the presenters said, “You may want to start getting worried about vendor delivery.” Hmm, should we?

Meanwhile, Back in the Hall

An update from HIMSS would not be complete without a report from the Exhibit Hall. We did not spend much time in there today, but whenever free snacks are offered, we are there. We visited a few select vendors to hear about their ICD-10 offerings and—much like our report yesterday—had mixed results with the types of services, but if they had popcorn or trail mix, we listened patiently.

Not much on the social calendar tonight, since we have an ICD-10 Pilot Testing Meeting at 7 a.m. tomorrow, but after all the waiting in line for food, cabs, and coffee, we are ready to call it a night.

From the front lines at HIMSS in New Orleans, au revoir,

Cindy & Howard

Looking Back on Day 1

Heading for the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Annual Conference & Exhibit going on this week in New Orleans, we arrived on separate flights late Saturday night and met Sunday for a lunch of raw oysters and po’ Boys – and to review the conference’s calendar of events. We then left for the convention center to register, discovering that 32,000 attendees already had done so, and that the figure could go as high as 35,000.

When we returned to our hotel, we found that bottles of water had been placed in each room, along with a letter addressed to hotel guests advising us that unfortunately, the City of New Orleans had experienced water issues early this morning. Due to the water pressure dropping to very low levels throughout the city, officials issued a boil-water order for drinking water as well as water used for any consumable products. At dinner, all the restaurants had to use and serve bottled water. I heard from other attendees that they had no water in their hotels to shower Sunday morning, but that did not happen to us. The order was not rescinded until late Monday afternoon, with the stated cause of the issue a fire in the boiler room of the water treatment center.

Back at the HIMSS conference, on Monday morning New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu welcomed attendees. He started by noting that we were meeting awfully early (7:45 a.m.), as this is a time when visitors typically are getting home from a night out in New Orleans. The mayor was energetic and engaging, and he talked about the many obstacles (hurricanes, the economy, etc.) that the city has survived during recent years – next they are waiting for locusts, he joked! Then Landrieu became serious and genuinely thanked HIMSS for coming to New Orleans and described how important it was to the city to host such an event.

The keynote speaker was the president and CEO of Ochsner Health System, Warner L. Thomas. He went into greater detail about the challenges New Orleans and Oschner have experienced together, saying that “you never know how strong you are until strength is the only thing you have left.”

ICD-10 was mentioned in the breakout session, “The Use of Social Media to Educate Patients.” The speaker, Brian McDonough, MD, is chairman of The Department of Family Medicine and chief medical information officer at Saint Francis Hospital in Wilmington, Del., and he has been the medical editor at CBS’s KYW Newsradio in Philadelphia since 1987. He discussed the evolution of communications about medicine, from the radio and TV through patient portals, Facebook and Twitter. He commented that physicians must be vigilant in how they communicate using social media. He advised physicians to be careful, but specific, like an ICD-10 code.



In another breakout session, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Global Health forum, Ken Golden, director of public affairs for the department, elaborated on the international objectives of HHS – one of them being strengthening multilateral global standards. While he didn’t specifically mention ICD-10, it could be inferred that this was one of the standards needed to achieve the global health goals.

When the Exhibit Hall opened at 1 p.m., we were right there! Prior to entering, we asked one of the local convention center “ambassadors” how many vendors were showcasing. We were told that while he didn’t exactly know how many, he could say that the typical conference utilized two to three exhibit halls – and HIMSS was using nine! It was the largest exhibit of which he was aware. We covered as much landscape as possible, reading exhibitors’ signs and materials. Many claimed to have an ICD-10 offering, but when we stopped and chatted with a few, it was clear that some were more concrete than others.

About the Authors

Cynthia D. Fry is vice president of revenue for Catholic Health East, a multi-institutional, Catholic health system located in 11 eastern states from Maine to Florida. Cynthia leads the revenue management initiative which is designed to improve operational performance through synergistic efforts across CHE’s various entities and is also CHE’s executive sponsor for ICD-10.

Howard Walker is director of revenue cycle systems and projects, is the Catholic Health East ICD-10 program manager. Prior to CHE, Howard was a manager at Accenture in the healthcare practice.  Howard has his bachelors from Villanova and his M.B.A (May, 2013) from Penn State.

Contact the Authors



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