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CFO Exchange: Weighing Expenses Against Quality Mandates

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, September 16, 2011

ICD-10 a High-Ticket Item
Another urgent matter for healthcare CFOs is the cost of purchasing, implementing, and training on ICD-10 software. This is the next generation of coding technology, which adds two decimal points of detail, and tens of thousands more complex options, to how hospitals will have to submit claims.
The most recent HealthLeaders Media Industry Survey found that 60% of leaders surveyed expect short-term cash flow to be negatively impacted both in terms of project resources and lost revenue.

Karen Testman, senior vice president of financial operations for MemorialCare Health System in Fountain Valley, CA, said her hospital system is looking at an expenditure of $8 million to upgrade its coding system for ICD-10.

A major problem is training enough personnel to understand the new system and code properly for care services, she said. So MemorialCare plans to partner with several community colleges to tailor programs that train new coders, and help current transcriptionists with a career transition after electronic health record conversion eliminates the need for their services.

Many financial officers at the CFO Exchange said they believe actual ICD-10 costs will be far higher than what has been estimated, especially after their employers launch trial runs.

"It's kind of freaked out our project manager when we said ICD-10 had to be part of our EPIC [software] system. She wasn't prepared," said Michael Burke, senior vice president, vice dean, and corporate CFO for NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. "So it's going to cost more. The amount of training is higher than we thought in our estimates."

See Also:
CFOs' Leadership Role, Often Overlooked, Gets Some Sunshine

Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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