eLearning and ICD-10 Training: An interview with Peter Cizik

Interview with Peter Cizik, VP and General Manager at Litmos Healthcare

Article courtesy of Dennis Flint

In a Jan. 14, 2015 post to the American Academy of Family Physicians’ website, the Physicians Foundation 2015 Watch List cited the Top 5 Pressing Concerns for 2015 from a Merritt Hawkins survey of over 20,000 physicians. No surprise the ICD-10 code set for outpatient diagnostic coding was on that list. Half of all respondents to the foundation’s survey said implementation would cause “severe administrative problems” in their practices. 75 percent of survey respondents said ICD-10 would “unnecessarily complicate coding.” Nonetheless, the report’s authors urge physicians to “take steps now to ensure they are ready for the transition so they will avoid cash flow disruption and lost revenue.”

AHIMA, in their online research journal, Perspectives, cited recent physician focus groups top concerns. Among issues such as consolidation, face time with patients, and access to care, “inadequacy of current ICD-10 training methods and content” also took top billing.

In order to address the above and continuing with our series on ICD-10 from the perspective of various ICD-10 stakeholders, Dennis Flint and The Talon Group recently interviewed Peter Cizik, Vice President and General Manager of Litmos Healthcare, one of the nation’s foremost online learning companies on his take on ICD-10 training and specifically, on the benefits of eLearning.

As we opened the interview, Peter articulated his view of the ICD-10 challenge. “We view ICD-10 as a significant shift in the way healthcare does business. This is not just a technical or software change, it’s a human modification change with impact not just in reimbursement but also for clinical quality and population health.”

“eLearning is not a Silver Bullet”

When we asked Peter for an overview of eLearning, he said. “eLearning is not a silver bullet but rather a complement to other educational platforms. Most successful organizations combine eLearning with other types of delivery methods…Virtual webinars, onsite workshops, live seminars. It’s an important ingredient in a broad blended approach. Not everyone learns in the same way.”

Specific Benefits of eLearning

When asked about the specific benefits of eLearning itself, Peter added, “eLearning is an efficient way to deliver a lot of information in a “drip learning” fashion that provides on-demand, bite-sized chunks. The key is to start now. Nothing prevents a needed refresher later. Repetition is the key to retention and you need a long runway so learners can absorb it.

With so many other things pulling at people’s time eLearning fits well within a chaotic worker’s day. For the administrator, it’s the best way to know who is taking advantage of the education and also acts as an ongoing resource. As people start practicing on ICD-10, eLearning is a tool to go back to drill for additional support in areas that were weak. And certainly, the on-demand feature allows for flexibility of access.”

Timing for ICD-10 Training and Testing Implications

With registrations for CMS end-to-end testing in full swing, we wanted to get Peter’s take on the importance of training in regards to testing. “An important reason to start ICD-10 training right now is that you have to educate yourself to have the context to give informed answers as you conduct ICD-10 implementation tasks. A good example is testing. There is an important domino effect that needs to occur if you want to properly test. The continuum starts with the first domino that needs to fall which is documentation. Next comes dual coding which you can’t perform without adequate documentation. You can’t test if you can’t effectively dual code so one needs to follow the other and so on.”

Dennis Flint and The Talon Group echo Peter’s following sentiment. “The importance of ICD-10 training for software updates is often overlooked. You can update your software but the best software in the world still requires human input. If not properly trained, there will certainly be kinks in the workflow. The best trained coders and the most advanced software won’t matter if you don’t understand the documentation challenge. Documentation trickles through the whole system. This is not a new issue. Ramifications are more severe now because of the needed level of detail. My concern is that organizations won’t see the anticipated benefits of ICD-10 if many of the problems now occurring with ICD-9 perpetuate. Quality scores that impact reimbursement are here to stay. If physicians want to get credit for what they do they need to modify their behavior. The consequences for negative impact on future reimbursement is significant. And this doesn’t happen overnight when you consider the potential requirement for a system-wide overhaul of current processes. And don’t forget, physician ICD-10 documentation training is just a part of the overall campaign. It’s important to have people monitor the level of understanding. A feedback loop is needed.”

What to look for in an eLearning Company with ICD-10 Training

When we asked Peter his opinion on what to look for in an eLearning company, he offered the following:

“We acknowledge there is ‘no one-size fits all.’ For example, Litmos Healthcare provides different learning methodologies. eLearning is a good foundation but we also offer virtual webinars and on-site sessions. Second, ICD-10 requires different levels of understanding and different content across the demographics of a practice. What we do focuses on the specific role of the audience. Finally, it is vitally important that the platform is easy to use. If technology is complicated, people won’t take advantage of it. So ease of use is critical.”

The Takeaways for ICD-10 Training

Get started right away on documentation training for physicians. This becomes the first “domino” in the overall ICD-10 transition.

Every action item and milestone of an ICD-10 implementation (including testing!) requires a level of ICD-10 knowledge in order to be successfully achieved.

eLearning can be an important part of an overall ICD-10 training plan in that it provides on-demand, bite-sized chunks of instruction that fit perfectly into healthcare’s chaotic workflow.