The 2017 AHIMA convention did not disappoint, as it covered a host of sessions to keep HIM professionals abreast of the latest industry developments and resources. Hot topics included: tools to aid in adopting the new ICD-10 codes, the push for interoperability among healthcare organizations, and new technologies in HIM.

ICD-10 Codes

2018 ICD-10 codes became effective on Oct. 1, 2017, requiring every hospital, physician practice, medical provider, payer billing and abstracting system to use them in reporting. Several exhibitors presented services to assist with adopting the new codes, including Ciox Health which offers Coding Gym. This new software provides hands-on training with providers’ real medical charts, as well analytics tools to assess coding accuracy and productivity levels.

Need for Greater Interoperability

While many healthcare organizations have adopted EHR systems, interoperability challenges are siphoning off opportunities to optimize both patient care and cost savings at practices and hospitals. In her AHIMA interoperability session, Anna Orlova, senior director of standards at AHIMA, talked about the importance of EHR systems shifting from transactional use cases where records are sent and received to a model of transmitting trusted information between external entities where medical records hold accurate documentation, are retrievable and are usable by clinicians. A practical example given by Katherine Lusk, chief health information management & exchange officer at Children’s Health System of Texas, is that with interoperability, an EHR showing a person’s maiden name would enable association with an EHR showing that person’s married name. With achieving interoperability, savings would be gained in the healthcare ecosystem by ultimately reducing clerical staff, as fewer EHRs would require manual reconciliation and fewer duplicate diagnostics would be ordered.

New Technologies Achieve Higher Productivity

HIT companies debuted several new technologies at AHIMA that promise to increase administrative productivity. Breakthroughs include Ciox Health’s new technology platform, HealthSource, that powers release of information (ROI), document imaging and abstraction with optical character recognition (OCR) and natural language processing (NLP). These new capabilities enable computers to scan text in medical request documents to find and auto-populate relevant information in medical record requests in seconds. Other companies featured computer-assisted coding (CAC) and batch scanning technologies. CAC analyzes documents and produces medical codes based on phrases and terms within the document with amazing accuracy. Batch scanning indexes records without sorting and can electronically reconcile the scanned documents with discharge documents. Lastly, analytics and reporting tools are embedded in most of these platforms, which enables decision makers to assess performance in real-time.

In closing, this AHIMA conference put attendees on the right path for implementing the new ICD-10 codes, raised awareness about interoperability issues that the industry is addressing, and announced new technologies that will increase productivity and accuracy in health information management.

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