Health orgs already trimming ICD-10 sails

By Tom Sullivan
09:19 AM

In reaction to the latest ICD-10 delay some healthcare payers and providers are currently stating intentions to stay the course toward compliance and more than 67 percent indicated that they would prefer to make the transition either before or during October 2015. 

But while the healthcare realm awaits word from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services on exactly what the new new deadline will be, a survey conducted by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society gives a glimpse that the resources to accomplish that continued push ahead may not be so readily available.

Indeed, 38 percent of the 643 respondents to HIMSS survey indicated that “we have rescheduled preparation plans” in light of Congress pushing ICD-10 back via the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014, signed into law on April 1, and 16 percent answered that “we have cancelled our plans until a firm schedule is announced.”

What’s more, nearly 20 percent have “not yet established ICD-10 plans,” while only 26 percent consider themselves well prepared.

It’s important to disclose that when HIMSS, the parent company of Government Health IT, conducted this research it was targeting healthcare professionals already registered for a joint webinar with CMS on ICD-10 so that fact may or may not skew the results in either direction.

The findings about ICD-10 plans jibe with responses to another question: Have you changed plans for ICD-10 staff training?

Among respondents, 44 percent have rescheduled training schedules and nearly 20 percent cancelled them until a firm deadline is announced. On the flip side are the 21 percent who have yet to plan for ICD-10 training and the 15 percent saying they “are fully trained.”

But it is still too early to tell how the delay will influence budgets for ICD-10, at least according to 66 percent of those surveyed. Within the remainder, a little more than 5 percent are planning to “allocate more money” to keep the transition alive, 9 percent said they are already freezing the funding until this time next year while 19 percent have the same total budget and are "going to have to stretch that money even further.”

With such uncertainty in mind, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange CEO Devin Jopp said it will convene an emergency ICD-10 summit at April’s end to chart a course toward implementation.

Whereas the last delay, revealed by the Department of Health and Human Services in February 2012, was met with similar proclamations to keep the momentum alive, it’s fair to say that readiness surveys —  perhaps most notably WEDI's most recent and a KPMG report — told a different story altogether, painting a landscape of myriad clearinghouses, payers, providers and the technology vendors failing to accomplish enough in that previous extra year to allay concerns about the industry being ready by the then October 1, 2014 deadline.

Whether history repeats itself in that regard, or otherwise, will likely come down to that HIMSS survey’s yet-to-be-told finding of exactly what impact the delay will have on ICD-10 budgets. And an awful lot is riding on what CMS states as the new deadline. 

How do you plan to proceed now? 

See also: 

The dark side of the bill pushing back ICD-10, patching SGR

Inside SGR, ICD-10 bill Obama signs pair of mental health provisions into law 

ICD-10: This just isn't how the deal should go down

Q&A: On the politics of ICD-10 timing