With President Barack Obama signing H.R. 4302, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 on April 1, 2014, the healthcare industry witnessed a further delay in ICD-10 implementation date. Section 212 of this bill has set the final ICD-10 implementation date as October 1, 2015. The new bill has generated several conflicting opinions among healthcare entities across the care continuum regarding the continuous delays of ICD-10.
Advocates of the legislation say that this delay has turned out to be a positive opportunity for those small organizations that were not fully prepared for the ICD-10 transition. This new move will give a major break to those hospitals and physicians who were literally struggling with the idea of such a transition. This will give them more time to prepare and concentrate on training programs for medical coders, programmers and other technical experts, which will subsequently strengthen the chance of streamlined operation and business success within the new system.
On the other hand, those healthcare organizations ready for the ICD-10 update are disappointed with this new move. Many organizations had invested a considerable amount in optimizing their unique operations for the 2014 launch. The new date requires organizations to invest more money and resources (that weren’t accounted for in the annual budget) to adjust new changes and maintain systems in place during that one year time frame. These organizations were preparing to be proactive to promote a smoother ICD-10 launch. However, the new move creates the impression that they are being punished for adopting the right approach.
ICD-10 Delay – Financial Implications
There is no doubt that ICD-10 preparation has resulted in massive expenditure for many healthcare organizations. In fact, many of the larger companies had initiated ICD-10 testing during late 2013, which forced them to redirect manpower and invest more funds for building a successful framework for the new medical coding system. Moreover, these additional expenditures will fall outside the organization’s planned budget and require a serious redistribution of funds to handle the extra load.
ICD-10 Implementation – Steps
- Maintain clear communication – As an initial step towards ICD-10 implementation, healthcare organizations need to maintain active communication between internal and external stakeholders. It is important for them to clearly communicate their core strategies for ICD-10 preparation, trials and testing as well as the new plans to move forward after the delay. Therefore, creating an effective strategy, communicating to all parties and following that plan correctly is essential for success.
- Watch your budget – Healthcare providers need to plan their total expenditure and analyze how the switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will significantly impact their operating budgets. A clear understanding of the various financial impacts of the delay will help in establishing a budget plan to accommodate further ICD-10 preparation efforts. Further, healthcare organizations should also analyze how to redirect the funds set apart for ICD-10 preparation.
For those healthcare organizations that have already invested their manpower and resources for implementing the ICD-10 medical coding system, maintaining the technologies developed over the past years should be the main priority until October 1, 2015.