Healthcare News & Insights

Practices worried about looming ICD-10 transition, survey says

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently finalized a one-year delay of the deadline for switching to the new ICD-10 coding system. And many practices still have a long way to go to be ready, a recent survey says. 

Despite the year-long delay, which moved the ICD-10 deadline to October, 2014, most healthcare providers are still concerned about getting ready to meet the deadline, according to a recent survey conducted by Nuesoft Technologies.

Nearly all (94%) of the 480 physicians, administrators, office managers and billers surveyed said they have concerns about the impact the ICD-10 transition could have on their practices. That includes 60% that are “significantly” or “highly” concerned.

The move will take a lot of work no matter how much time is given, many experts say, because the ICD-10 code set contains more than eight times as many codes as the current ICD-9 set. And although when announcing the finalized deadline, HHS claimed that the switch to ICD-10 codes will, in the long run, help healthcare organizations save money and “improve the quality of information available for quality improvement and payment purposes,” most practices are expecting trouble, at least initially.

In fact, 73% of respondents said the ICD-10 transition will negatively affect their practices, either financially or operationally. In addition to the number of codes in the new set, providers are also concerned about having to train employees on how to recognize which codes to use, as well as needing to make software upgrades and change documentation practices and workflows.

Regardless of whether practices are ready, ICD-10 is coming. Here are some steps practices can take to ease the transition:

  • Train coders the use the new set, and consider hiring more coders or use overtime scheduling to limit the damage when productivity dips initially.
  • Review written procedures, forms, payer contracts, and any other documents that may need to be updated to reflect the switch to ICD-10.
  • Check with software vendors to find out if systems will be able to accommodate ICD-10 and if there is anything the provider must do to make necessary upgrades.

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