Sunday, February 28, 2010

Unifying Information Channels

By Mark Brousseau

Healthcare organizations should look at new ANSI 5010 standard as an opportunity to modernize their entire information processing infrastructure, Edifecs CEO Sunny Singh told attendees this afternoon at the Medical Banking Project Boot Camp at HIMSS10 in Atlanta.

By January 1, 2012, all covered entities must be able to send and receive all HIPAA transactions in the 5010 format. With more than 1,300 changes in 5010, compared to 4010A1, organizations must understand the new information contained in 5010 and how best to use this data. Combined with all of the other corporate strategies that healthcare organizations face, 5010 is a complex challenge – and its deadline is fast approaching. “Deadlines make everybody nervous,” Singh said, adding that organizations that haven’t started implementing a 5010 solution need to do it now.

But the new 5010 standard provides healthcare organizations with the chance to finally unify their information channels, to ensure that they process all of their information – incoming and outgoing – in a consistent way. This will help organizations achieve operational efficiencies and remain competitive, while easing their path to compliance with inevitable future regulations, Singh said.

“Healthcare organizations are getting information from various channels,” Singh explained. “When you make sure that every channel is unified, initiatives like 5010 become much easier to implement.”

Faced with meeting the new 5010 standard, healthcare organizations face three options, Singh said: complete replacement of all systems (“rip and replace”); remediation of core processing systems; and step-up/step-down. Singh noted that the complete replacement of core systems is a very expensive proposition for which there doesn’t seem to be a lot of takers. Remediation takes less time, Singh said, but organizations must have a sizeable team working on the project, and, depending on the existing systems involved, may still require considerable time, money and resource investments.

The option that is gaining the most traction, he said, is the step-up/step-down approach. In this scenario, organizations would convert 5010 information to 4010 and pass it throughout their systems; they also can convert the 4010 information to 5010 format and pass that throughout their systems.

“This is the most pragmatic option if 5010 planning and implementation has not yet commenced,” Singh said. “It has the least impact on core processing systems and other ongoing projects.”

But most importantly, it helps to unify a healthcare organization’s information channels.

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