Healthcare News & Insights

Report: Hospitals, vendors lag in adopting ICD-10 codes

With just a year and a half remaining until the deadline to switch to ICD-10 codes, many providers are struggling to get ready for the transition and have yet to take many key steps to prepare. 

MedicalFilesWhile the October 2014 deadline to switch to ICD-10 codes is approaching, many healthcare providers are falling behind the recommended timeline to prepare for the transition. And it isn’t just hospitals and doctors’ offices — insurance companies and software vendors are also lagging in ICD-10 adoption, according to a recent survey from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI).

WEDI polled 1,000 healthcare providers, health plans and health IT vendors were surveyed in February in a follow-up to a poll conducted a year prior.

The conclusion: Many of the surveyed organizations in all categories have yet to reach the goals that they had previously set for themselves. Among the results of the survey:

  • In 2012, nearly all health plans planned to begin external testing for ICD-10 codes by the end of 2013. However, in the most recent survey, only half said they expect to start testing by that time.
  • Two-thirds of vendors in the most recent survey said they planned to start beta testing their product updates in 2013. However, in last year’s survey, two-thirds expected to do so in 2012.
  • In the 2013 survey, half of the providers surveyed said they didn’t know when the testing would occur, and two-fifths don’t know when they’ll finish assessing the impact of the transition to ICD-10 codes.

Getting ready

The bottom line: It’s time for hospitals to start preparing. And it isn’t just their own internal operations they need to worry about. It’s also critical to be in close communication with payers and software vendors to make sure they’re getting ready, too.

These are some steps experts recommend to get on pace to meet the ICD-10 deadline:

  • Train coders to 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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