Less than 100 days to ICD-10: Where the industry stands

We’re less than 100 days from the ICD-10 implementation deadline and there’s a less than likely possibility that we’ll receive another delay, but, of course, weirder things have happened.  That doesn’t mean there hasn’t been some movement by lawmakers on Capitol Hill who continue to push for transition periods or outright bans of the code set while surveys reveal that participation in testing still lags.

Despite numerous delays for ICD-10 in the past, members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Health made clear at a February hearing that they do not want to see the transition delayed yet again. Strong language, but much the same was said by officials at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services last in 2014 at the annual Health Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) when they suggested that there would be no delay and just months later, it was delayed again.

However, in March, 100 physician groups–led by the American Medical Association–expressed concern in a letter to Acting Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator, Andrew Slavitt, about ICD-10 issues, such as testing and lack of contingency planning, FierceHealthIT reports.

Bills continue to be introduced to stop or delay the deadline again. For example, representatives Diane Black (R-Tenn.) and Gary Palmer (R-Ala.) have bills pleading for grace periods for the transition. Black’s bill would require an 18-month transition period to the new code set. Palmer’s bill would provide a grace period of two years during which physicians and other providers would not be “penalized for errors, mistakes and malfunctions relating to the transition,” Fierce reports.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) introduced a bill that would ban ICD-10 entirely.

At this point it’s a long shot. Folks are concerned, though. That’s where the fear comes from; the constant calls for delay. Resources are stretched, money is limited and as the deadline looms, it’s close to say many organizations are near panic. Even if they bring in outside resources, as we can attest, now it’s too late for them to be much good at this late point.

So, as the issue continues to be debated, perhaps while doing so we should be getting out Is, Cs and Ds in order and get down to brass tax and get ready for the coming change. Not preparing for the change only hurts oneself and their organization.

Like the Coalition for ICD-10 suggest, at this point, just days from the transition, a grace period, as referenced above, would compromise the ability of Medicare to monitor quality of care and could be a massive risk when it comes to audits.

Recently the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said its second round of ICD-10 testing, which involved 875 providers, clearinghouses and billing agencies in April, had an 88 percent acceptance rate. However, a new survey from eHealth Initiative released last week found testing lagging among 271 providers polled. Only 34 percent said they have completed internal testing and just 17 percent have completed external testing.

Unfortunately for the industry, according to MedPage Today, with the ICD-10 implementation date looming, a recent survey of more than 1,100 physicians, payers and vendors from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange found that the biggest obstacle to industry readiness is the belief that there will be another delay.

Really, though, do we have the time to think that way anymore; not likely.

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