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How does our industry reach all the critical actors in its healthcare ecosystem, starting with the consumer?

We know that communication will be the lynchpin for ICD-10 transition success in October 2014, as IS integration, testing, training, business process redesign, and change management are interdependent, and without a two-way line of communication, the transition will struggle to achieve a successful outcome. Can we use a grass-roots approach to train, share knowledge, and manage?

One of the challenges early on the road map of the ICD-10 transition was the ability to manage and substantiate both tacit and explicit knowledge. We continue to struggle with keeping FAQs current and addressing myths. Large payers and large hospital systems have created their communities of knowledge with some degree of sharing. Is there a need for communities of practice to create some standards?

We see the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other industry organizations providing more webinars, town halls, listening sessions, and so on, but is that getting down to the people working in the “trenches” of healthcare eco-system who will be affected? What strategy can be applied to I-10 that has been successful to reach the majority?

As an industry, we also need to ask: Is there is a plan to educate the consumer on what ICD-10 will mean to them as they access healthcare, what changes will they see, and whether it will be transparent?

So how can we do this and achieve success? We have seen several success stories of social media campaigns that we might want examine, that we know are being studied at major universities. One is the recent presidential campaign. “E-neighborhoods” were created, there was a push of information down to individual voters, and the potential was created for two-way communication. It allowed for a paradigm shift in political campaigns!

The success of the social media political campaign was stated as the following formula:

Expertise + Planning + Power + Message + Integration + Tools = Success

So how can we use this formula to communicate the important impact messages of the single most dramatic change to the healthcare industry in recent history, and to our e-neighborhoods and/or affinity groups?

The first step is to secure the social media expertise that can drive the planning and execution of the campaign.

Next, define the e-neighborhood, and within that neighborhood, establish the affinity groups, i.e., physician practices, home health, consumers, payers, clearinghouse, PBM or pharmacies, long-term care, behavioral healthcare services, et cetera.

Simultaneously, a fact-gathering program should be kicked off to collect email addresses of all actors, starting at the consumer, across the ecosystem to establish the foundation for a ICD-10 social media campaign for the particular e-neighborhood and affinity group! It will be important to grow the list, to reach across the e-neighborhoods into the affinity groups and to collect emails address as fast as possible, so using creative ways to do that will be important. One approach is to work with volunteer groups within the e-neighborhood to set up call centers to gather the email information.

It is critically important not to think of this Social Media campaign as an IT project, but rather as a special project to connect with people. While the technology is important, lumping this project with other IT projects in flight or traditional communication plans may hinder success. One of the most important team members of an ICD-10 social media campaign is the writer, who needs to demonstrate a high degree of skill writing colloquial yet powerful emails with tag lines that will capture the attention.

The importance of the content of the email cannot be overstated, starting at the tag line, the value of the message, and what it means to the affinity group. It can be a tool to gain a stronger relationship with the members of the e-neighborhood/affinity group. A social media program can become a very meaningful tool in gaining mindshare of the providers who are risk-averse or resource-depleted, building a more trusted relationship and addressing targeted business drivers/challenges.

The capability to analyze data from an ICD-10 social media campaign will be a valuable by-product. Creating a blog or allowing for two-way communication as part of the strategy and execution should be considered.

The content that you might want to consider when building an I-10 social media program is:

What is ICD-10?

What does I-10 mean to the patients?

What changes will take place when I see my doctor?

What changes will take place when I use the hospital services?

Will it cost me, the patient, more?

Will the insurance company still pay my claims as they did before I-10?

Will my bill look the same?

Do we, the providers, still submit our bills using the same format?

Will my reimbursement be the same?

What will ICD-10 mean to our registration process at the doctor’s office?

ICD-10 Training and Coding information can be an important component of an ICD-10 Social Media Program and be ongoing as new codes are released after the code freeze is lifted.

Building the plan around affinity groups facilitates customized content, with a focus on data that can assist in identifying potential process impacts and data challenges prior to the October 2014.

We as an industry need to embrace industry-changing technology and solutions to move us further down the ICD-10 transition road map to execution.

About the Author

Ellen VanBuskirk, senior principal in business consulting for Infosys Public Services, is a healthcare consultant focused on compliance strategies with a mission to work across the Healthcare value stream to meet regulatory challenges. VanBuskirk has conducted business development efforts in support of healthcare compliance and reform, as well as ICD-10 transformation by both provider & payer organizations. With more than 20 years of success in leading business teams and identifying emerging opportunities and challenges in the healthcare industry, VanBuskirk brings deep expertise in health plan regulatory and compliance initiatives, including healthcare reform, ICD-10 transformation, meaningful use, HITECH and HIE.

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