Health Information Management

Providers’ greatest obstacle to ICD-10 preparations could soon be removed

APCs Insider, April 10, 2015

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By Steven Andrews
If the Senate manages to pass the bipartisan Sustainable Growth Reform (SGR) reform bill next week that the House already overwhelmingly passed, providers will finally be free from the annual patch bills that have led to potential disruptions, including last year's ICD-10 delay.
The Senate has a lot of motivation to pass the bill as soon as possible when it returns to Washington, D.C., next week. If the SGR bill isn't passed by Tuesday, physicians face a 21% cut in Medicare payments for all services provided on or after April 1.
Although the industry luckily avoided another ICD-10 delay—despite one representative's last-minute proposed amendment—implementation plans may have already suffered a hit due to last year's delay, according to a recent Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) survey. The survey, conducted in February, polled 1,174 participants, including 173 vendors, 205 health plans, and 796 providers.
Approximately 33% of providers responded they had completed their ICD-10 impact assessment, down from more than 50% who indicated they had completed this step in the August 2014 WEDI survey. More than 60% of hospitals or health systems have completed their assessments, while less than 20% of physician practices have done them.
Continued fear over more delays was a key obstacle to progress for providers, according to the survey, with more than 50% citing that as a reason. Staffing and competing healthcare initiatives presented additional obstacles for more than 40% of providers surveyed.
Delayed preparations could lead to a potentially tight testing schedule. I’m also worried because only slightly more than 50% of providers plan to choose ICD-10 codes directly, a decrease from nearly 66% in WEDI's August 2014 survey. On the positive side, the number of providers planning to only use crosswalks to code ICD-10 from ICD-9—which largely defeats the purpose of the more specific code set—decreased from 25% to 20%.
Providers may not be as prepared for ICD-10 as they, or CMS, hoped they would be by now, but if the Senate can quickly approve the SGR bill, the chances for another ICD-10 delay are greatly reduced. With other signs from Congress that support for a delay is dwindling, the greatest ICD-10 obstacle providers have faced will be removed.


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