When hospitals ratcheted up their coding resources in 2014 for the implementation of ICD-10, they also began evaluating international coding options for back-up support. Some providers directly contracted with offshore coding teams. Others partnered with U.S. based coding companies with International presences to “test the waters” in India, Philippines, Israel, the Caribbean and more.

Certainly, the one-year delay gave all parties additional time to experiment, evaluate and experience what Thomas Friedman originally coined “Globalization 3.0.” In his best-selling book,The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty First Century, Friedman clarifies, “I did not mean that the world is getting equal. I said that more people in more places can now compete, connect and collaborate with equal power and equal tools than ever before.” That’s why an Indian in Bangalore can take care of the office work of American doctors or read the X-rays of German hospitals. And considering the existing coding shortage, this is a good thing.

Most hospitals have dipped their toes into international waters and worked with offshore coding teams. What have we learned? Here are three “global” points to keep in mind:

1. You Open Up the World

Once you open up access to the world, the world has access to you. For healthcare providers, overseas opportunities are not just about purchasing a service; they are also about providing professional expertise.

From IT directors to administrators and managers, U.S. healthcare professionals are migrating to other countries for higher pay, deeper incentives and to gain international experience. Even U.S. healthcare organizations, such asCleveland Clinic andJohn’s Hopkins, are now service providers for global hospitals.

TAKEWAY: Your best coders will probably explore overseas opportunities.

2. Organizational Structures are Changing to Achieve Triple Aim

New executive mindsets around HIM have emerged now that records are electronic. Coding departments are transitioning to revenue cycle. HIM operations are being pushed to IT. Hospitals are leaning their organizations as one step towards achieving the Triple Aim. Stronger integration of coding, revenue cycle and clinical documentation improvement (CDI) is essential to streamline processes and reduce redundancy.

According toForbes, the healthcare sector is now the “nation’s largest private-sector industry sector, accounting for 13 percent of the total U.S. workforce.” But according to aJune 2014 Modern Healthcare article, fewer hospitals have positive margins and most are facing financial squeeze with a total of 61.3% of organizations in Modern Healthcare’s analysis witnessing operational margin deterioration over the previous year.

Certainly, executive attention must be focused on new and innovative ways to develop staff while also balancing quality and cost. The coding department is no exception. Correct departmental alignment leans your organization. New coder staffing, reporting and development models must be considered.

TAKEWAY: Oversees coding resources should be seriously evaluated to avoid ICD-10 coding backlogs, address ICD-10 coding productivity decreases, and also mitigate the already existing shortages of qualified coders.

3. Healthcare Becomes Business

Most hospitals are still in the mindset of healthcare being a service. With accountable care, pay-for-performance and healthcare reform, new business-minded experts will succeed. In HIM particularly, it’s time to shift from a crisis management director to a strategic business developer. ICD-10 is HIM’s moment to shine and grab the reigns of dramatic industry change.

In order to garner executive respect and complete their ICD-10 journey, HIM professionals must become strategic thinkers, communicate at all levels, and accurately identify exact costs and benefits for every step of ICD-10; before, during and after implementation.

TAKEWAY: Plan properly. Level up your business acumen. Take the time to track, manage and revise your ICD-10 budget every step of the way.

ICD-10 Fuels Change

Now’s the time for HIM Directors to learn more about offshore coding services under the helm of their trusted U.S. coding companies.U.S. led coding teams with operations in India, Philippines, Israel and the Caribbean stand ready to receive cases and code charts in ICD-9, ICD-10 and CPT.

The 2014 delay in ICD-10 implementation extended training time for offshore teams and provided additional opportunities for testing. These teams are technology-savvy, they are established components of U.S. based coding companies, and they are a valuable resource that should not be overlooked.