The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had changed the ICD-10 compliance date from October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2014 to provide more time for covered healthcare providers and other entities to prepare and fully test their medical coding system for a smooth and coordinated transition. However the October 2013 ICD-10 Readiness Survey by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), a leading authority on the use of Health IT to improve healthcare information exchange, shows that the health care industry is farther behind the key ICD-10 compliance milestones specified for providers, payers and vendors in the WEDI/NCHICA timeline, compared to information given by a similar survey in February 2013. This indicates that most health care providers are still unprepared for the adoption of new medical coding system that includes about 141,000 codes for new procedures and diagnoses which is expected to improve the nature of information available for quality improvement and payment purposes.
Around 353 respondents participated in The WEDI survey including 196 providers, 59 vendors and 98 health plans. The major findings of this survey are as follows:
- While one-quarter of vendors said their system are complete, around one-fifth of the vendors indicated that they are halfway or less than halfway complete with product development to incorporate new codes. Around three-fifth of vendors said that they are already doing customer review and beta testing or plan to do the same by the end of 2013.
- Around three-fifths of health plans have finished their impact assessment while one-fifth of them are nearing finish. About two-thirds of health plans have started internal testing or expect to start by the end of 2013. If around one-third of plans have already started external testing or expect to begin by the end of 2013, three-fifths of them are expected to start external testing in the first half of 2014.
- Around one-half of the providers indicated that they have completed their impact assessment. About one-tenth of providers expect to start external testing in 2013 whereas one-half expect to begin the testing in the first half of 2014.
According to Jim Daley, WEDI Chairman, it is quite clear from the survey results that the industry continues to make slow process, but the extent of progress is not enough for a smooth transition. He suggests the main factors for slow progress are the change in compliance date, competing internal priorities and other regulatory mandates. However, it is very crucial to monitor industry progress and early testing results closely to predict what might happen on the compliance date.
Delaying ICD-10 implementation will be a great cost burden for providers, vendors and payers. Many facilities have already invested time and resources in their systems for ICD-10 preparedness and have contracted with vendors and consultants. If the deadline keeps getting extended, additional training and testing will be needed beyond the original date. Also, the HITECH (Health Information Technology) Act has already invested millions of dollars in educational grants to get the workforce prepared for ICD-10 transition. This training would of no use if ICD-10 is delayed too long as people would not remember what they learned if they do not use the knowledge.
So it is very important for health care entities to streamline their ICD-10 transition process, perform end-to-end testing and train their coders before 2014 deadline. You can save the cost for ICD-10 training in your practice by partnering with a professional medical billing and coding company that offers the services of experienced AAPC certified coders that are ICD-10 prepared. The right company can help you overcome ICD-10 end-to-end testing challenges and streamline the entire transition process.