Outlook grim for docs' ICD-10 readiness

Becki Weber, senior vice president of IT at the six-hospital Meridian HealthBecki Weber, senior vice president of IT at the six-hospital Meridian Health

'The physicians are a bit disengaged.'

By the way things look now, the healthcare industry is not on track to meet the ICD-10 compliance deadline of October 2014. In fact, providers have fallen even further behind with timeline milestones than they did back in February, according to new report findings. But it's not just providers. Vendors also have a long way to go. 
 
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange survey concludes that a whopping 80 percent of healthcare providers will fail to complete their business changes and begin testing before 2014.
 
Moreover, 20 percent of vendors said they were halfway there or less with developing products in support of ICD-10, and 40 percent indicated they wouldn't even have a finished product available until sometime next year. 
 
[See also: 8 zaniest ICD-10 codes.]
 
"All industry segments appear to have made some progress since February 2013, but have not gained sufficient ground to remove concern over meeting the Oct. 1, 2014 compliance deadline," said Jim Daley, chairman of WEDI, in a news release announcing survey findings. "Unless all segments move quickly forward with their implementation efforts, there will be significant disruption" come October.
 
Becki Weber, senior vice president of information technology at the six-hospital Meridian Health in New Jersey, said she's concerned because providers haven't really gotten on board with ICD-10 like they should be. 
 
At Meridian Health, ICD-10 has become an IT-led project where they're pushing the rest of the organization. Weber and her 211-person team have created a website for providers and office staff to train on ICD-10, but so far providers are disconnected, she said. 
 
[See also: Health system ICD-10 ready months early.]
 
"The physicians are a bit disengaged," Weber said in a Healthcare IT News webinar last month. "I'm not sure they see it as a real issue, and I think that's going to be a surprise for them." 
 
Judy Comitto, chief information officer at Trinitas Regional Medical Center in New Jersey, said what's really getting in the way of their ICD-10 progress pertains to the vendors' own meager headway. 
 
"What's been happening is that the vendors that we need to upgrade the software and be capable of ICD-10 processing are not timely, so that is pinching our test time and the downstream functions that come after testing," said Comitto. "I'm a bit disappointed having reached out to these vendors that they are certainly not there yet." 
 
Other survey findings include:
 
  • Some 50 percent of providers have completed their ICD-10 impact assessments.
  • About 50 percent of providers expect to begin external testing in the first half of 2014; only one-tenth expected to start in 2013.
  • The top three barriers to providers' ICD-10 delays were cited to be: staffing, competing priorities and vendor readiness.
  • Vendors indicated their top three barriers were: customer readiness, competing priorities and other regulatory mandates. 

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