Healthcare News & Insights

ICD-10 deadline less than a year away: 3 steps to take now

With less than a year remaining before the deadline to switch to ICD-10 codes, more than half of providers still haven’t started working on the transition. 

MedicalFilesOn October 1, 2014, hospitals and other healthcare organizations are required to switch to the new ICD-10 code set. That date was set after the original deadline — October 1 of this year — was pushed back.

While groups have been debating whether or not delaying the deadline again is a good idea, the feds don’t seem to have any plans for another change.

However, the majority of doctors still haven’t done much to prepare for the switch to ICD-10 codes, according to survey conducted by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

More than half (55%) of the doctors surveyed said their organizations haven’t started moving to ICD-10 yet. And among the rest, just 5% have made any significant progress, and a only a tiny fraction (0.1%) have finished their ICD-10 implementation.

Steps to take now

If providers don’t begin planning, they could end up missing the deadline or making the switch without enough testing to handle all of the problems it will cause.

Here are some of the steps experts say organizations should take now:

1. Communicate with health IT vendors

For many organizations, software will need to be updated in order to make the switch. That includes EHR applications, practice management systems, billing programs, etc.

Hospitals should talk to their vendors to find out if and when those upgrades will be coming — and whether or not the hospital will have to pay for them. Among the doctors surveyed by MGMA, an equal number (37%) said they would have to pay or that the upgrade would be covered, while the rest didn’t know yet.

2. Review contracts, procedures and forms

Likewise, paper forms and other documents will likely need to be updated to reflect the change in the coding system.

Providers will also need to communicate with payers to find out if their contracts must be updated before the ICD-10 deadline.

3. Test everything

With any big change, it’s important to test all of those systems and processes so that problems can be worked out before the switch is mandated.

That includes testing the organization’s typical internal tasks using the new systems and processes, as well as doing a trial run with payers and other external organizations.

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