The troops, 125 soldiers, huddled around monitors in war rooms set up in Kansas City, Kan.
Strategist Mike Hourigan had decided what they needed to be ready for battle was food.
“All kinds of stuff, pizza, soda, coffee and bagels,” Hourigan said.
They waited and listened for the first shot, scheduled for midnight, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015.
But then, “We haven't heard of anything,” said Hourigan, director of consulting and regulatory strategy at health information technology vendor Cerner Corp.
The national conversion to ICD-10 diagnostic and billing coding on its first night was running pretty smoothly.
And the troops at Cerner's offices that were ready to handle problems, questions and crises?
“For a lot of time, they didn't have a lot to do,” Hourigan said.
One of the most maligned and feared events in healthcare history began with a whimper.
“I think, by and large, at least the people we've worked with, they have done so much preparation that they're eager,” said Ed Hock, managing director and ICD-10 guru with the Advisory Board Co., a healthcare consultant. Health IT technology cognoscenti predict most providers of size-large hospitals and health systems, large physician groups and large health plans can handle the numerous, complex and very specific new codes.
If larger organizations experience cramps, they probably will appear later as kinks in their cash flows caused by delays in reimbursements.
The organizations most likely to have trouble, however, are smaller providers and health plans, which lagged in implementing IT upgrades and training to handle the more robust ICD-10 codes.