Share Your Voice in the Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey

With less than one week until the HIMSS16 Annual Conference begins in Las Vegas, thousands of healthcare IT professionals are finishing up last minute conference preparation. Last year’s show had over 43,000 registered attendees, but that’s not the only figure that stood out. Our HIT Annual Survey conducted at the conference showed noteworthy results regarding industry barriers related to healthcare data analytics.

Completed by project managers, CIOs, IT directors and consultants, last year’s survey revealed that most (51 percent) showed confusion toward what and how much healthcare data to actually collect in data analytics initiatives. A majority (34 percent) also felt that the lack of buy-in across their healthcare organizations was the largest barrier to IT initiatives, including data analytics and achieving meaningful use. The full results from 2015 can be found here.

This year for HIMSS16, we’re excited to gain industry insights again by launching the Fourth Annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey. This year’s survey presents six questions focusing on healthcare leaders’ top initiatives and concerns for the remainder of 2016. By participating, individuals can enter into drawings for $200 Amazon gift cards. Survey responses will remain anonymous.

Can’t attend HIMSS16 or want to participate in advanced? Not to worry! Take the quick survey here.

Amazon Gift 2016 Outlook Survey

As always, for those headed to Vegas, stop by Stoltenberg’s booth #3621 for prizes, refreshments, meet ups with our executives, and survey live visual results. Plus, help us celebrate our 20 years as strategic health IT advisors on social media with the hashtag #20inHIT.

See you in Vegas!

CHIME15 Recap Part II: CNN’s Fareed Zakaria on Healthcare’s Political, Not IT Revolution

In part II of our CHIME15 Fall Forum recap, we focus on the message of Friday’s conference keynote speaker Fareed Zakaria. Zakaria is the host of CNN‘s Fareed Zakaria GPS, and he writes a weekly column for The Washington Post.

In our first CHIME15 recap, we highlighted that CHIME’s c-suite survey pointed to being able to elicit change as the most critical skill for today’s healthcare CIOs. However, in Zakaria’s speech, he seemed to emphasize this great responsibility of healthcare executives more so beyond IT fixes. According to Zakaria, information technology cannot be the magic bullet for America’s healthcare problems.

“I don’t mean to be the bearer of bad news,” Zakaria said. “What I mean is that you have a very complicated job ahead of you, which is the structure. In addition to that, you have a Democratic system, which makes it very hard to change the structure.”

According to Zakaria, healthcare isn’t going to operate like any other market because the fundamental structure raises difficulty in achieving certain economies of scale.

Zakaria said that the U.S. has hoped to find a technological fix all to magically get around issues. Instead, he said, “I think, more likely we’re going to have to do the hard work of unraveling the system that we have in place and figuring out how you actually make some hard political decisions that force you to choose, you know, when you’re 85 years, do you need a double hip replacement?”

The revolution needed here is not based on information, but a political revolution.

What are your thoughts in response to Zakaria’s message? Let us know!

Agents of Change

This year’s island themed CHIME15 Fall Forum created quite a splash as CHIME unveiled the full results of its year-long CIO survey in the session “The Evolving Role of the CIO: Aligning CIO Perspectives with the Executive Team.” CHIME surveyed 123 CIOs across the country, along with some CEOs and other c-suite-executive colleagues of those CIOs, to compile results.

Among the most significant findings, the survey found that both CIOs and other c-suite executives agreed that CIOs’ will be change agents within their organizations over the next several years. However, surveyed c-suite executives held a heighted belief (over CIOs’) that CIOs will need to be emerging technology innovators to proactively push organizations forward. Opinions aligned that CIOs cannot simply meet required operational tasks. They must now proactively lead beyond.

agents of change

While change management earned the most votes as the most important CIO attribute, other survey options included talent management, senior management leadership, knowledge management and analytics, emerging technology and innovation and operational management.

According to Tim Zoph, session co-presenter and former CIO of Northwestern Medicine, if we think the healthcare industry is fast-paced now, it’s about to get even more chaotic. “There are a lot of forces for change, including organizational consolidation, consumerism, precision medicine, regulatory developments and payment model changes,” Zoph said.

Stay tuned for part II of our CHIME15 Fall Forum recap on the HITStoltenblog!

Today’s Healthcare Industry Pressures Call for New Executive Capabilities


When you think about individuals in a hospital c-suite, what characteristics come to mind? Perhaps passion and drive with combined analytical and relational skills? These characteristics unite to meet the needs of today’s patients and industry demands while aiding cross-organizational collaboration. Collaboration is a critical component in leading a complex and integrated healthcare system of care. No longer can separate facets of a healthcare organization operate in individual information silos, and CIOs hold an increasingly important role in connecting a hospital through technology. Considering the building pressures of executives, here are three quick tips for healthcare leadership:

Planning for the Future

Healthcare organizations now look to leaders who are seasoned team players, willing to offer up fresh perspectives affecting the whole. While much of the healthcare industry is in flux, looking toward the future may seem difficult. However, long-term strategies are important for executives new to a position or an organization, especially when considering demands to stretch tightening budgets.

Leading by Example

Frontline staff, from check-in to patient visit follow up, play a crucial role in patient satisfaction. With such a significant role, healthcare leaders need to motivate and lead these individuals by example to impact their actions and decisions toward each patient interaction. C-suite leaders should take the time to engage one-on-one when possible with frontline staff. Those who deliver valuable care are incredibly important to the success of a healthcare organization.

In an article by Becker’s Hospital Review, former Modern Healthcare publisher and author/public speaker Chuck Lauer said the following:

“The healthcare field needs new ideas and courageous leaders to make them happen. Leaders must show resolve and a willingness to change if the conditions merit doing so. On the other hand, a leader must also be consistent and mature in their personal behavior. After all, a leader sets the tone of a given organization and if they are not consistent that can often sow the seeds of unrest and stress. Any of those things can be a major component of failure and consequently must be avoided!”

Addressing “No”

By all means do we understand the incredible juggling act that c-suite executives manage in balancing multiple projects, but what happens when stakeholders want an exciting new project that really isn’t within bandwidth? Within the same Becker’s article, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka shared that “What not to do is as important as what to do, because each of us gets this laundry list of hundreds of things that stakeholders want. The technique I usually use is not to say ‘No.’ ‘No’ is such a negative word, so loaded with emotion. So, I say, ‘Not now.’ My role on the resource side is not to create fear, uncertainty and doubt, but to explain to the board what we need to do.”

ICD-10 Preparedness and Clarified Flexibilities

Can you believe we’re in the final stretch before the looming ICD-10 October 1 deadline? Well, for some healthcare providers, the thought is still surprising. According to a recently conducted RelayHealth survey of 130 HFMA ANI attendees, 17 percent of participants said they think ICD-10 will be delayed again, while only 13 percent felt they are fully ready for ICD-10.

Within the same survey, 32 percent believed the ICD-10 transition will actually take place on October 1, 2015, but with provisos. A majority of participants (59 percent) thought physicians need more training on documentation, and 39 percent felt coders need more training or opportunity for practice with new codes.

Considering it’s already August, providers can’t bank on another delay. Instead, they must make sure they have the necessary processes in place for this transition and work with thoroughness and urgency, not panic. Consider the possible problem areas for ICD-10 testing, and be proactive about them.

In the meantime, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has clarified flexibilities after the ICD-10 compliance deadline. Providing a question-answer formatted document, CMS gave feedback to the healthcare industry. However in doing so, CMS has reiterated the release of this FAQ does not indicate another ICD-10 delay.

CMS clarified the following ICD-10 specifications below:

  • The ICD-10 ombudsman will be in place by Oct 1.
  • If a submitter’s claims are denied, they will receive explanation of the rejection.
  • Submitters should follow existing procedure for correcting and resubmitting rejected claims.
  • CMS will indicate whether a claim is rejected for invalid code versus lack of specificity needed for Local Coverage Determinations or National Coverage Determinations.
  • Added ICD-10 flexibility only applies to Medicare fee-for-service claims, but each state’s Medicaid program will be responsible for processing submitted claims that include ICD-10 codes for services on or after Oct 1 in a “timely manner.”

A full list of the 2016 ICD-10-CM codes and code titles can be found here, with codes listed in tabular order.


At this stage in the game, our experts offering the following pieces of advice for ICD-10 preparation:

  1. For each physician, make a list of the top 25 ICD-9 diagnosis codes utilized over the past 12 months (Set A).
  2. From Set A, have your coding group research and prepare a crosswalk of each ICD-9 code to its ICD-10 counterpart (where there is 1:1 correlation).  Note if there are any additional documentation requirements the physician will need to make going forward for Set A.
  3. For the subset of codes that do not have a 1:1 match (Set B), have your coding group create a flow chart by code that depicts the required documentation and medical rationale needed in order to identify the correct ICD-10 code. Denote the additional required documentation requirements.
  4. Perform physician education.
    1. Present Set A and highlight additional recommended documentation that will be needed going forward. For many physician lists, there will be a 1:1 match from the ICD-9 code to its ICD-10 counterpart.
    2. Present Set B and highlight the ICD-10 coding requirements (documentation and decision rationale). Work with each physician to personalize education as needed. Remember, it is estimated that an additional 20 percent of time will be required to fully and accurately document the correct ICD-10 code. Time spent in education prior to October 1 will lessen the negative impact on the revenue cycle.
  5. For physicians with lists where the majority of codes do not have a 1:1 match, arrange education in small focused groups, perhaps using their medical specialty. The impact of ICD-10 is greater for some medical specialties than others (cardiology, orthopedics, emergency medicine, surgery). Use this knowledge proactively and offer additional specialized education for these physicians as their claims typically show higher dollar values and therefore pose more risk to the revenue cycle.
  6. For hospitalists, arrange separate education that includes SNOMED training. The October 1 deadline will also bring a dramatic change in inpatient procedural coding.

Throwing it Back to 1995 in Honor of Stoltenberg’s 20 Years

20th banner

As Stoltenberg Consulting continues its 20th anniversary celebration, we thought we’d have a little fun looking back to 1995- the year that Sheri Stoltenberg, founder and CEO of Stoltenberg Consulting, Inc., started it all.

Throwback to 1995 when:


  1. The cost of a gallon of regular gas was $1.15.
  2. Starbuck’s Frappuccino was released in 1995. We’re sure a lot of Starbuck’s has helped our consultants through some tough project and go-lives.
  3. The George Forman Lean Mean Grilling Machine was released.
  4. The World Series champions were the Atlanta Braves.
  5. The Super Bowl XXIX champs were the San Francisco 49ers.
  6. The first ever full-length computer animated feature film Toy Story was released.
  7. HTML 2.0, the first formal HTML standard, is published.
  8. Netscape released Javascript, an object-oriented script language.
  9. sold its first book in July of 1995.
  10. Ebay launched.
  11. Windows 95 was released.
  12. DVDs were first distributed in Japan.

As we move forward today, Stoltenberg has grown over the past two decades to a consultant base of more than 120 resources with an average of 15 years of direct, onsite experience and vendor certifications in Cerner, Siemens, Epic, Meditech, NextGen, Allscripts, Zynx and McKesson. The first has served over 250 healthcare organizations throughout the country and has expanded services to Stoltenberg’s unique offerings, like the Consultant Development Program, the 2014 Best in KLAS Help Desk Service Line, financial and clinical optimization, and BI and healthcare data analytics capabilities with Deerwalk, Infor, and Qlik partnerships.

Members of the Stoltenberg team continue to celebrate the anniversary, sharing personal thoughts on the company’s 20 years of service:

“It has been great to be part of the Stoltenberg family for the last eight years. It is a great feeling to know you work for such a wonderful company that treats you as a family member instead of a number.” -Deb, EpicCare Ambulatory Manager

“Sheri Stoltenberg founded this company because she saw the need for a consulting firm that worked differently. If a customer needs a customized solution, be flexible and work with them to create it. If a customer needs standardization, use your industry experience and background and deliver it. Her guiding philosophy was simple: Always do what’s right for the customer, and don’t just meet their expectations- exceed them! Those principles will continue to set Stoltenberg apart from other firms, and I’m proud to work for a company that is passionate about what it does and delivers what it promises.” -Jonce’ Smith, VP Revenue Management

“It’s wonderful to be part of an organization that is so well respected in the industry. Wherever I go for client work, Stoltenberg is well respected raising high expectations of me.  It’s an honor to be part of that.” -Carole Kemmer, Senior Healthcare System Consultant

Over the past year that I’ve been with Stoltenberg, I have become very aware of the importance this company places on excellence, whether it is from the resources we sell or the staff managing those resources. The fact that we have been around and thriving for 20 years means that our clients value us and our services. They see something in us that sets us apart from the rest.  I am proud to be a member of the Stoltenberg team and am excited to see the company continue to grow and prosper in the years to come.” -Christen Gregory, Strategic Account Manager

Linking Smart Data Analytics and Population Health Management

With the overwhelming amount of data accumulated by healthcare providers across the country, the application of true smart healthcare data analytics can seem challenging. Last month at HIMSS15, we saw HIT leaders express confusion toward data analytics in our third annual Health IT Industry Outlook Survey. Within the survey,  84 percent of participants, representing CIOs, CMIOs, IT project managers, IT directors and consultants had questions around type, quantity, and ways in which to use their healthcare data. On top of this, 62 percent stated the biggest barrier to IT initiatives around MU and data analytics was a lack of organizational buy-in or financial resources. So, how do we transition these concerns into smart actions?

In a recent article for HISTalk, Stoltenberg Vice President Shane Pilcher addresses this question and ties smart healthcare analytics into population health management. See Shane’s article here.