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Collaborative Partnerships Vital For Smooth Conversion of HIPAA Standards

A seamless transition. That’s the goal we all seek in the colossal dual conversion of our HIPAA 4010 X12 files to the new 5010 standard, and the ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets. Somehow, with a tight timeline and crunched budgets, we must simultaneously pull off two technically challenging migrations – and do it all with minimal disruption to business operations. The task, at times, feels overwhelming.

As you research your options, however, I’d suggest that one important place to begin is with a candid assessment of your organizational partnerships. The Herculean effort needed to successfully transition these two critical data sets at the same time will require close collaboration with trustworthy and responsive partners, each working within a well-defined area of expertise.

Consider the ways you can leverage current business relationships to accomplish the task at hand. Obviously, you best understand your business processes. HIT vendors, by contrast, may be better suited to navigate the technological waters. We don’t each need to reinvent the wheel; we need to work together.

The changeover to the HIPAA 5010 electronic transaction standard must be completed by January 2012. The move to the ICD-10 code set must be accomplished by October 2013. With precious little room for waste – of time or resources – practices must augment their internal strengths with the strengths outside vendors can provide.

There are many healthcare IT vendors with the requisite technical skills to master the new standards. Of course, some technologies are inherently more seamless than others. Web-based solutions, for instance, don’t require the software implementation necessary for other applications.

But regardless of the technology employed, I urge you not to overlook another crucial aspect of any business alliance: communication. I earlier stated the need to associate with enterprises that are trustworthy and responsive. Foster partnerships with those who listen and respond promptly to your unique organizational needs. A contract doesn’t necessarily equate to true collaboration.

Make sure your vendors talk with you about their plans for the coming transitions. Know their timelines. You have the right to make informed decisions regarding everything from necessary updates to overall process changes.

The reality is that most healthcare organizations have a limited IT staff – and most of them now are stretched to maximum capacity. Successful, seamless transition of these data sets, therefore, depends upon genuine teamwork with respected partners.

How is your practice working with partners through this transition process? We invite you to share your experiences in the comments section below.