36% of Practices Have Not Started ICD-10 Preparations

In a webinar hosted by eMDs, participants were asked a series of polling questions on ICD-10 preparedness. The poll results were revealing. Following the delay announcement last April, most consultants and professional organizations recommended that practices and hospitals continue their ICD-10 preparations unabated. But given the myriad of competing priorities in healthcare - everything from meaningful use attestation, ACO planning and/or reporting and understanding the proliferation of plans through the implementation of healthcare exchanges - this was more a best case than a practical reality. It was far more likely that most organizations tabled their work on ICD-10. Now that we are a mere 222 days away from the current deadline, we wanted to find out how prepared participants were for ICD-10.

Is your practice on schedule for the Oct. 1, 2015 deadline?

pic1 With over 60% of respondents indicating they are behind schedule or not started, it’s clear that there is still a lot of ground to cover for many practices. Perhaps the practices believed that another delay was imminent and thus postponed their preparations.

How confident are you that ICD-10 will happen in 2015?

pic2 But the truth is 45% believe it will happen this year. And with the recent buzz in the press about Congressional support, counting on another delay would not be prudent. In fact, in a briefing held on Feb. 10 on Capitol Hill, the central message communicated was “We need it. We’re ready.” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) also provided his support saying, "While additional testing will be needed to ensure its success, the transition to [ICD-10] will streamline the management of healthcare records and improve patient care. I will continue to keep a close eye on this issue but see no reason for any delay past the October deadline." These indicators give us optimism that ICD-10 will go forward as planned.

Do you have the funds to support the transition to ICD-10?

pic3With only 11% reporting they are financially ready for the transition, budgeting for ICD-10 should be a top priority. Rand corporation estimates that as many as 10-15% of practices will be forced out of business by this change. Those will be the same practices that do not adequately budget and prepare for the transition. Your budget should take into account both the direct costs of system upgrades and training as well as the indirect (but very real) costs of lost productivity and disruptions in cash flow. CMS is so concerned about the latter that they are recommending that practices have up to 6 months of annual revenue stashed in the bank on October 1, 2015.

Do you have a training plan in place for your staff?

pic4 There is no question that everyone is going to require training. If not full certification on the new code set, a process they are involved is likely to be changing. And yes, physicians will require extensive training. Even if they do not do the final coding of the encounter, they will need to understand the new documentation requirements. Some considerations of the training plan:

  • Physicians and coders will require the most time
  • Local or distance options are available (boot camps, conferences, online training, webinars)
  • You will likely need to add resources during the training process - temporary help or overtime
  • Make sure training materials are available to your staff

Ideally these resources will be integrated into your day-to-day systems. Essentially, everything associated with coding a patient encounter and submitting that encounter for payment is going to have to change. There is the potential for major disruption in operations, payment streams, and productivity for those who don’t adequately prepare. Now is the time to pick up the ICD-10 folder and get to work.

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