Dennis Flint Earning His Wings, Again

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Retired Air Force Capt. (and commercial pilot) Dennis Flint takes to the skies to spread the word about forthcoming medical diagnosis coding changes.

ICD-10 will be a disaster for any practice that doesn’t prepare.

Dennis Flint, a retired U.S. Air Force captain and former commercial pilot for Northwest Airlines, just can’t keep his feet on the ground.

As director of consulting and education for Louisiana-based Complete Medical Solutions – an expert provider of practice-management software, hardware and consulting services – Flint takes his duties seriously. And that’s never more evident than when he’s discussing the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Studies’ planned update from ICD-9 to ICD-10 in October 2013, the first update of the nation’s medical diagnosis coding system in 25 years.

According to Flint, the update represents a massive upheaval for medical practitioners, who are tasked with switching from a coding system that utilizes about 14,000 codes (each three to five characters long) to one including over 68,000 codes (some as long as seven characters). Calling the switch “a really onerous change,” Flint cites studies that predict the cost of implementing the coding change will be about $160,000 over three years for the average five-doctor practice; other studies suggest that same firm will suffer a 20-percent decline in revenues, and that’s if it perfectly implements the changes.

“There’s so much more documentation required to comply with the coding changes, doctors just won’t physically be able to see as many patients,” Dennis Flint said. “Whether it’s paperwork, referrals to outside providers or managed-care contracting, there’s impact throughout the practice.”

Making the coming transition even scarier for healthcare providers, he added, are the “troubling” findings of a recent survey of national healthcare providers regarding ICD-10. For one thing, many providers consider ICD-10 to be “just a coding or IT issue,” he noted.

“Wrong,” Dennis Flint said. “ICD-10 crosses the entire continuum of a healthcare provider’s day-to-day work processes. Superbills, lab and X-ray orders, preauthorization of procedures and referrals to outside providers are all affected, just to name a few.

“And what about retrospective reporting?” he added. “As practice administrators, we benchmark based on past performance. How can we rely on reports that compare ICD-9 apples to ICD-19 oranges? ICD-10 is not just an IT issue.”

Another finding of the troublesome survey, according to Flint: Some insurance companies will be required to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 and some will not, but most healthcare providers are unaware that – in order to comply with both – they’ll be universally required to run dual coding tracks.

“If not,” he warned, “they will be unable to file electronic claims. What sort of impact would it have on your practice if you couldn’t file electronic claims?”

To help as many doctors as possible be ready for the coding change, Flint is hitting the highway – or in his case, the airways. A member of the Editorial Board of ICD-10 Monitor, an online news source dedicated to helping healthcare providers make educated decisions as they transition to the new coding system, Flint has completed a workshop series, several webinars and numerous national podcasts discussing ICD-10 and its implications, and has already traveled to various national locales – including two recent trips as far as the Hawaiian islands – to educate doctors in person.

Now he’s packing his bags again. Flint is planning a Jan. 18 trip to Lansing, Mich., to address the Michigan Primary Care Association and a Jan. 26 voyage to Raleigh, North Carolina, to address the North Carolina Community Health Center Association.

After North Carolina, Dennis Flint will be in Austin, TX on January 28th to address TEXMED and numerous other dates are scheduled throughout the year. The Complete Medical Solutions consulting and education director said he anticipates several more junkets around the country to discuss the critical ICD-10 changes with healthcare providers.

“Most practices know they need to do something about ICD-10, but they have no idea where to start,” Dennis Flint said. “ICD-10 will be a disaster for any practice that doesn’t prepare.”

About Dennis Flint
Parker, Colorado resident and retired U.S. Air Force Capt. Dennis Flint earned a bachelor’s degree in Organizational Behavior from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1977 and has enjoyed a long, varied and successful career in private industry. A former commercial pilot for Northwest Airlines and franchise manager for Snelling Temporary Services, he’s filled various roles – from sales director to VP of education to CEO – during two decades in the medical-practice support and administrative services industry. Dennis Flint currently serves as director of consulting and education for Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Complete Medical Solutions.


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