Physician Champion Corner

Introducing Victor Freeman MD, MPP –
DCHIMA’s new Physician Champion: Gatekeeper to the Medical Community

Dr. Victor Freeman is a Washington DC-based internal medicine physician, with a 20-year career that includes clinical care delivery, quality improvement and health services research, as well as leadership roles and management consulting for public and private hospitals.

He brings a unique and diverse professional background to his nationwide consulting work, in Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI), with J. A. Thomas & Associates (now part of Nuance Communication, Inc.). Dr. Freeman specializes in engaging medical staff in taking accountability for compliant clinical documentation of “severity of illness” & “medical necessity”, as well as addressing the growing challenges in using electronic medical records and computer-assisted coding. His commitment to documentation issues and the use of computer technology in health care dates back to brief stint he had in the federal Office for Health Information Technology & Quality (OHITQ). As the OHITQ Quality Officer & Senior Medical Advisor, Dr Freeman helped safety net care providers begin preparing for ICD-10, as far back as 2011. He is also a national speaker on health care reform and on the ICD-10 transition for the healthcare industry. Dr Freeman is one of a very small number US physicians that is an AHIMA-Approved ICD-10 Trainer (2013-2015).

Dr. Freeman has traveled to many hospitals in order to train medical staff in how to prepare for the upcoming ICD-10 transition, and he’s discovered some interesting and concerning findings along the way! According to his DC Community Physician/Care Provider ICD-10 Preparation Communication Plan:

  • In recent visits to hospitals ~75% of physicians felt there would be another delay
  • Many hospitals have delayed training physicians until late summer, thinking that late summer ICD-10 documentation trainings will be more easily retained — As a result, many physicians now believe that office preparation can also be delayed to the last minute…
  • Many offices are unaware that clinicians will need to learn new “documentation” rules to accurately capture specificity in ICD-10- code etiology, anatomy and manifestations 

Please Click Here to read Dr. Freeman’s full ICD-10 Preparation Communication Plan, and check this space periodically for Dr. Freeman’s shared findings such as related articles, upcoming related events/trainings and reports.

Click Here to read Dr. Freeman’s open letter to physician colleagues on ICD-10!

Dr. Freeman summarizes several key points about the upcoming ICD-10 transition such as:

  • Despite the pending “Coding Flexibility Act of 2015” bill languishing in Congress—ICD-9 Codes will NOT be accepted for claims billing On or After October 1, 2015
  • Clinicians need to know IF, WHEN and HOW their EHR will help with ICD-10 Codes!
  • Clinicians Need to Have Their Offices Ready for ICD-10 Coding in August 2015 (that’s now!)

Related Physician Readiness links from AHIMA:

Physician Practice Check-Up 

Preparing for ICD-10-CM in Physician Practices

Role-based Model for ICD-10 Implementation: Timeline for Physician’s Office