'Prime time' for ICD-10 starts now

Organizations taking advantage of deadline extension by training more staff, improving clinical documentation

Even if the ICD-10 compliance date is farther away than it once was, it will arrive eventually. (For real, this time. We think.) And while you'd be forgiven for taking a foot off the proverbial gas, this is time that should be spent pushing ahead with preparedness plans.

That's the upshot of a recent survey by eHealth Initiative and AHIMA, which finds that most healthcare organizations are shrewdly using the extra time afforded by the extended October 2015 deadline to invest in clinical documentation improvements, workforce training and partner testing.

[See also: It's ICD-10 deja vu all over again.]

But concerns over preparedness and the financial impact remain, and while most organizations said they're ready for ICD-10 testing, they have differing timelines: some are more prepared than others. Forty-five percent of respondents, meanwhile, say they don't have a good sense of their partners' readiness.

"These results show that 'prime time' for ICD-10 preparedness is now through spring 2015," said Sunny Singh, CEO of Edifecs, which sponsored the survey, in a press statement. "Testing is vitally important to establish readiness for the ICD-10 transition and to mitigate any potential revenue impacts."

He added that, "although the mandate has created uncertainties and challenges for all, there is the potential for long-term return in the form of improved claims processing and billing, performance measurement and quality improvement."

Takeaways from the survey, which polled physician practices, hospitals, payers, vendors and others:

[See also: AHIMA demands 2015 start for ICD-10.]

  • Some 40 of respondents said they'd start end-to-end testing by the end of 2014, and 25 percent reported plans to begin by the end of 2015. But of those who stated they had no plans for end-to-end testing, 41 percent said they didn't know how to perform testing.
  • Another 38 percent thought their revenue would decrease, while 14 percent believed it would hold steady. Just 6 percent thought revenue would increase.
  • Most organizations thought thought coding patient encounters, adjudicating reimbursement claims and negotiating contracts between payers and providers would get more difficult in the short term.
  • While the ICD-10 switchover aims to improve accuracy of claims, quality of care and patient safety, not everyone yet has a clear plan to derive value from more granular codes.
  • In order to mitigate productivity loss, 68 percent of respondents planned to conduct additional training and practice, and 31 percent said they'd hire more coders to assist with the transition.
  • Clinical documentation improvement was one task that most respondents expect to be the most difficult post-switchover, especially with regard to patient encounters: 61 percent of respondents say they're taking advantage of the deadline extension by training more staff for ICD-10 and improving clinical documentation.