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.


Looking Back on Big Data Effectiveness

With HIMSS15 right around the corner, it seems fitting to focus on one of the conference’s upcoming hot topics: The Future of… Big Data. In a survey published by InformationWeek, participants were asked about the effectiveness of their organizations in identifying critical data and using it to make decisions.


Big data, big trouble

Of those surveyed,  30 percent shared that their companies are very or extremely effective at identifying critical data and analyzing it to make decisions. This figure falls from 2013’s 42 percent. Additionally, 63 percent said they are only moderately effective, while 7 percent claim defeat in the big data journey.

Revisiting these results makes us wonder if the health IT industry will have similar apprehensions about big data at this year’s conference. Has the year span made enough of a dent in these issues to incite organizations to use big data and business intelligence toward informed clinical and business operations decision-making?

While we celebrate the buzz big data’s popularity provoked over the past year, we also note that organizations cannot blindly jump onto the big data bandwagon. Healthcare organizations should not simply collect data for the sake of collecting data. For true big data success, healthcare organizations need to work towards obtaining smart healthcare data. The differentiating factors of smart healthcare data are the types of data being collected, the volume of the data, and its validity. By establishing best practices in the data collection process for the right type and amount, organizations won’t be left with large quantities that cannot be analyzed well.

People + processes

Additionally, while key performance indicators, benchmarks, and dashboards help to indicate progress of data collection, BI initiatives and efficiency of organizations, true success cannot be met without organization-wide support and a strategic roadmap. Both clinical and financial end users must come together to engage with, understand, and support BI technology and processes. At the same time, these end users should be provided with information relevant to their roles and department goals to effectively alter staff performance. Executive leadership must also lead organization-wide buy-in by example and prepare BI processes to answer anticipated future “what if” questions. A BI solution is not a cookie-cutter solution. Hospitals must combine industry insights and experience to interpret the right data to transform both clinical and financial processes, supporting unique organizational goals and cultural change.

HIMSS15 blog carnival

This blog post was created to promote and join in on the #HIMSS15 Blog Carnival buzz, following the topic of “The future of big data.” For more information on the Blog Carnival, please contact: For more information on HIMSS15, please visit: Http://

Thank you for your time, and we hope to see you at HIMSS15 in Chicago!

HIMSS15 Blog Carnival

Whether you’re attending HIMSS15 in Chicago or not, you and your organization can still join the HIMSS buzz in this year’s Third Annual #HIMSS15 Blog Carnival from April 6-10! The Blog Carnival will promote health IT hot topics one week before the actual HIMSS conference to provoke meaningful conversations.


HIMSS15’s five Social Media Ambassadors will serve as the carnival hosts. Each Social Media Ambassador will host one day of the carnival, offering his or her industry expertise and perspectives on the topic of the day.

The overall theme of the carnival will be “The Future of…,” with a specific focus for each day:

· Day 1: The Connected Healthcare System

· Day 2: Big Data

· Day 3: Security

· Day 4: Innovation

· Day 5: Patient Engagement

 Anyone from the health IT community is welcome to submit his or her blog posts by the March 20 deadline.

How to submit to the #HIMSS15 Blog Carnival

  • Create a blog post that fits the five subject areas specified above and theme of the Carnival.
  • Make posts non-promotional in content and focused on the designated topics.
  • Submit blog posts to for review before March 20.
  • Clearly state in your email subject the theme topic you are have written about. Authors are welcome to write several posts for one or multiple topics.

Good luck with your posts!

A Big Thank You for Best in KLAS


Last Thursday, we were thrilled to announce that Stoltenberg Consulting strengthened its legacy of renowned healthcare IT consulting services by earning not one, but two 2014 Best in KLAS awards! (Wahoo!)

In the 2014 Best in KLAS: Software & Services report, KLAS Research awarded Stoltenberg 2014 Best in KLAS for both IT Outsourcing (Partial), which includes Stoltenberg’s legacy support and IT Help Desk Service Line, and Clinical Implementation Supportive with scores of 90.9 and 97.9 out of 100 respectively*.

These accolades would not be possible without your help. We are sincerely thankful for the honest, unbiased feedback our clients provided to KLAS Research, like the following:

“I feel like I can trust Stoltenberg Consulting as if they work for me directly.  I have really come to depend on them. They work around the clock to help our project stay on track and be successful. I am really appreciative of their dedication and follow up. In addition to working with them side by side every day, we also have a monthly tracking call so we can all see where we are and what needs to get taken care of. I find that call to be very productive and helpful.”

-IT Director, December 2014 **


Annual Best in KLAS reports independently monitor vendor performance through the active participation of healthcare executives, managers and clinicians representing over 4,500 hospitals and 2,500 clinics. For a complete view of commentaries related to these services, visit

Thank you again to our clients for their continued support! We’re so pleased to be with you on your journey towards improved patient care and efficiency.

* “2014 Best in KLAS Awards: Software & Services,” January 2015. © 2015 KLAS Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved.

** The above selected commentary may not represent the whole of provider sentiment related to this product or service. Visit for a complete view. Collected about IT Outsourcing (Partial), by KLAS in December 2014 © KLAS Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved.