Healthcare News & Insights

How hospitals can still leverage ICD-10 delay

A new survey shows that the ICD-10 delay hurt providers’ preparedness for the transition. But there’s still plenty of time to use the delay to your advantage. 

178476699The preparedness survey comes from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), which polled 324 providers, 103 payors and 87 health IT vendors. Overall, the study found that vendors and payors are more prepared for ICD-10 than providers.

Providers lagging

Some of the key findings from the study:

  • only half of providers surveyed had completed impact assessments, with two-fifths planning on conducting the assessments sometime in 2015, and
  • about one-third of providers had begun external testing, with many saying they weren’t sure when they’d begin.

The silver lining is that larger providers, like hospitals, were more likely to have taken the necessary preparations than small providers. However, the delay caused many facilities to slow down their preparation efforts, so a lot still has to be done.

When asked what barriers were preventing them from planning for ICD-10, providers listed issues such as budget constraints, staffing issues and vendor readiness.

However, the survey found that more vendors’ products will be ready for ICD-10 next year than originally expected.

Furthermore, many payors have already started external testing with some portion of their providers. Hospitals that haven’t looked into testing yet should see what kind of testing opportunities their payors are offering.

Taking advantage of added time

It’s important for hospital leaders to think about how the administrative burdens from ICD-10 will affect them sooner rather than later, and plan accordingly to make up for those deficiencies. Otherwise, you might find your operations and bottom line badly hurt by the transition.

Thankfully there are still ways hospitals can leverage the delay so they’re ready for ICD-10 next October, says Craig Greenberg, national practice director for a healthcare management consulting firm, in Becker’s Hospital Review.

By continuing to prepare up until the implementation date, hospitals can gain a competitive edge. According to Greenberg, hospitals should focus on performing tasks like:

  • Streamlining revenue cycles. ICD-10 is predicted to hurt providers’ bottom line during the initial transition. To prepare, Greenberg recommends looking at data for denial rates, collection percentages and days in accounts receivable to get an idea of what areas need improvement.
  • Develop a clinical documentation program. ICD-10 will include a ton of new, more specific codes. As a result, providers’ documentation will have to adapt in order to support the codes and ensure the correct reimbursement is received. With the delay, providers have time to address the need for greater specificity in their documentation through training programs. Not only will this help facilities with their bottom line, but it’ll also teach physicians to document items like quality outcomes, which will help hospitals meet meaningful use criteria.
  • Integrate with physicians. More hospitals are taking over physician practices, but the two groups don’t always operate using the same system. Greenberg recommends finding ways to centralize tasks, like billing or accessing electronic health records, to improve performance and workflow.

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