Smith saves his choicest words for ICD-10.
"It's a little bit like being a zebra in the herd that's being circled by lions," he says. "You know somebody's going to get eaten. You just hope it's not you. I guess that's kind of how we all look at ICD-10. It's something that probably needs to be done. Nobody wants to do it. The cost of doing it is extremely high. My guess is it's going to take the deadline to really flush the whole thing out. We do have processes in place now that are doing the planning for it.
"The big deal is going to be, How do you get your physician population educated enough to use the new coding. I think that really is where the real challenge is. If they delay it another year, that would be fine with me. If they don't and it's the law, then we're going to comply with it."
Smith foresees a "consultant frenzy" nearer to the ICD-10 conversion date, one that will rival similar scrambles during the Y2K and HIPAA transitions.
The impact of technology reaches all the way into the executive level at Advocate. "If you look at the members of the C-suite, I think probably they'd prefer to talk about building new hospitals and new wings and new buildings, because that's kind of what they've always done," he says. "But I think you're seeing more and more the understanding of the importance and the significance of the technology investments, so there's no question it gets much more attention at a much higher level than it ever did before."