Learning from Canada’s ICD-10 rollout

Providers can still learn from Canada to prepare for the American ICD-10 rollout date.

Although it's been a decade since Canada implemented the ICD-10 standard in its healthcare system, providers may still be able to learn from the way they approached this task. While better preparation for ICD-10 implementation could result in better use of health technology in the future, there are valid reasons to be cautious when first undertaking a conversion, and studying the way ICD-10 was deployed in other countries can still lend valuable insight.

In an article for HealthLeaders Media, Lena Weiner referenced the Canadian approach to ICD-10 as a sort of cautionary tale for American providers. Although it took place in a "staggered" manner, she writes, it also led to lower productivity because the implementation lacked proper training.

This was also referenced in a 2010 Healthcare IT News article by Carl Natale, who also said that coders were hampered by the technological needs of handling the new codes, which took up time and resources. 

"Until ICD-10 implementation, medical coding was a paper-based job. But healthcare organizations went to Windows-based software to report codes," he wrote. "Combine that with the fact that Canadian healthcare IT was predominantly DOS based, medical coders had another learning curve to master. And due the complexity of the coding, medical coders needed bigger computer monitors. Some went to dual monitors."

However, in a separate article for ICD-10 Watch, Natale said that the United States' late arrival to ICD-10 is a blessing if coders are trained in advance.

ICD-10 guidance specialists can prioritize the weak areas that affect an organization and give them the expertise to make strategic improvements that work. Healthcare consulting firms are especially useful for those providers that still depend on the older code system and don't have a plan in place yet to transition.

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