White Paper Guide: How to manage vendor relationships

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

One thing is certain, ICD-10 implementation will require managing relationships with vendors. It's a vital part of the project management that can make or break an ICD-10 project.

[See also: Healthcare vendors: How to choose a partner who will help you thrive]

Some vendors you already have relationships with. You need to inventory them and determine if their products and services are affected by the ICD-10 transition. And you need to investigate what other vendors have to offer. This may be the time to install practice management systems (PMS), computer assisted coding (CAC) or electronic health records (EHR). These vendors promise automation that can make ICD-10 coding easier.

Again, managing communication and relationships with vendors could be complicated. Avior Computing has a white paper - "The ICD-10 Compliance Challenge: Automating Trading Partner and Affiliate  Readiness" that explains how important it is.

The white paper stresses the need to assess risks. That involves the following tasks when it comes to vendors and service providers:

  • List software or systems that require conversion to ICD-10, and what vendors provide them.
  • Gather contact information for each.
  • Reviewing each vendor contract.
  • Contact vendors about upgrades.
  • Schedule installation and testing of ICD-10 compliant software.
  • Monitor progress of vendors' work.
  • Keep internal stakeholders updated.

The affiliate relationships also need attention. For providers, these are the organizations they such submit claims to - such as health plans and clearinghouses. Payers are looking healthcare providers and clearinghouses. According to Avior, these relationships will involve:

  • "Identify testing partners"
  • "Determine contacts, gather contact details"
  • "Create readiness assessment questionnaire"
  • "Assess trading partner readiness"
  • "Manage assessment responses, score them to identify high risk partners"
  • "Manage and chase non responses"
  • "Create test data and scripts"
  • "Prioritize the most critical partners"
  • "Test partner communication"
  • "Schedule external testing"
  • "Monitor and report to management on trouble spots, manage remediation"

While the  white paper has good insights an managing relationships with external vendors, it also has a couple tips that are useful for internal transitions.

For large hospitals with many departments and systems, it could pay off to treat each department as an affiliate.

And when it comes to readiness, look at the staff as vendors. Schedule benchmarks and readiness deadlines. Keep track of their progress.

[See also: Healthcare Vendors: Do you need to get some help with your ICD-10 implementation?]