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Posted on 12.04.2014

Getting Creative in the Battle over ICD-10

Just as providers are (once again) gearing up for the transition to ICD-10, a new battle is brewing that has many experiencing déjà vu. In recent weeks, several state medical associations have begun lobbying Congress to attach a two-year delay to a “must pass” spending bill this month, prompting ICD-10 proponents to take to social media to speak out against the effort.

(For those of you not following, the transition to ICD-10 – a system of codes used to describe medical services in bills sent to payors – was delayed by a year after it was attached to a similar “must pass” bill back in April).

While hashtag campaigns aren’t new, I have to give props to the folks behind the #ICD10matters campaign (namely AHIMA and the Coalition for ICD-10) for bringing a fresh approach to this stale debate. In addition to sending the usual letters and emails to Congress, AHIMA recently held a “tweet rally,” encouraging members to tweet messages of support for ICD10 implementation to their elected representatives and tag them #nodelay or #ICD10matters. Members from across the country obliged – sending more than 4,000 tweets highlighting the benefits of the new coding system in a matter of hours. From a compelling infographic that demonstrates the real-world impact ICD10 could have on tracking the spread of ebola to a slew of messages touting ICD-10’s effect on everything from payment cycles to population health, the campaign drove home the reasons why many believe it’s time for a change. Many participants even injected a little humor into the debate (this tweet is a personal favorite).

Only time will tell if these efforts made a difference but one thing is certain. No matter what side of the debate you’re on, it seems clear that further starts and stops will only make it more difficult to engage employees and physicians around the transition. As a communications professional involved in ICD-10 awareness and training efforts, I know how challenging it is to get the attention of busy providers. We can only cry wolf so many times before people stop listening, which underscores the importance of setting a deadline – any deadline – and sticking to it. What do you think?

 

Rebecca Kirkham is the Senior Vice President at Lovell Communications. You can view more of Rebecca's blogs here. Connect with Rebecca at Rebecca@lovell.com.

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