Until its delay in March of this year, the pending implementation of ICD-10 created a wealth of professional growth opportunities for individuals trained in health information management. The demand for workers ready to provide guidance as the implementation rolled out meant the chance for employees to attend workshops, classes, and training sessions. It also meant increased demand for consultants proficient in the conversion, leading to even greater recruitment of health information management professionals.
But the delay of ICD-10 has thrown a wrench in the plans of workers and employers as they wait to see when their work surrounding the conversion will continue. Another concern for some is that this delay may contribute to an oversight and failure to pursue other opportunities to maximize their professional growth and the potential of this data to improve patient care.
“When I review the health information management websites, I do not see these professionals looking to the next health data initiative. We are still pursuing ICD-10,” says Frank Waterstraat, program manager for the University of Wisconsin’s online Bachelor of Science in Health Information Management and Technology. “I understand that we have devoted significant time and effort to implementing ICD-10, but there’s nothing we can do about the delay. We still need to focus on ‘retooling’ other health data initiatives.”
In an article in Healthcare IT News, the Healthcare IT director indicated that ICD-10 was in “limbo.” Instead of waiting for the green light to continue implementation, he is now directing his efforts toward the next major initiative—accountable care organization (ACO) data capture and reporting.
This shift in focus, Waterstraat says, is critical. “We cannot afford the delay of ICD-10 to become an obstruction to our professional growth and development,” Waterstraat says. “Looking ahead to opportunities like ACO data capture and reporting is exactly the type of work that health information management professionals need to pursue.”
With the advent of ACOs and the associated skill of health data analytics, Waterstraat says health information management professionals should focus on developing skills in data mining, data communication, database understanding, and data analysis knowledge and skills. The UW Health Information Management and Technology program targets the health data and information technology skill requirements in its curriculum required for these emerging health data analytics opportunities. Waterstraat says it’s essential that the health information management profession do the same to ensure it is a leader in health data analytics.
“Just as we have taken the lead role in coding,” Waterstraat says, “we now need to take the lead role in this emerging health data discipline that will require advanced skills in health data analysis and information technology.”