Many providers who are concerned about whether they will be ready for the change to the ICD-10 coding system in October 2014 are not alone. According to a recently released survey conducted by the Medical Group Management Association last month, fewer than 5 percent of physician practices feel as though they have made major progress toward being ready for ICD-10. Susan Turney, M.D., the president and CEO of MGMA, said that to put things in terms that are as simple as possible, CD-10 is running behind schedule.
MedPage Today reported that specifically, Turney said that the problem was that practices, health care partners and software vendors are not as coordinated as they should be. The news source explained that findings presented at the American College of Physicians' annual meeting in 2013 showed that an estimated 65 percent of clinical documentation does not contain the amount of information coders need in order to bill under ICD-10.
Furthermore, more than 67 percent of practices in the MGMA report said that they were "very concerned" about upcoming changes to clinical documentation.
Practices expressed concerns
EHRIntelligence explained that 65 percent of practices surveyed by MGMA were worried about the loss of productivity that may occur as a result of changing to ICD-10, and many were concerned about the cost associated with this change.
The news source stated that it is not just workflow that will be impacted by ICD-10. Many practices explained that they feel the need to upgrade both their practice management and their EHR systems. Many providers have yet to begin testing for ICD-10, and that could be due to the fact that many said that they would not have the technology they need for ICD-10 until April 2014.
MGMA called for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to do more to make sure that providers will be able to properly test for ICD-10.
"As the agency overseeing the nation's largest health plan, it is imperative that CMS show leadership by reversing its position and begin end-to-end provider testing," said Turney, quoted by the news source. "The publication of testing schedules, payment policies and readiness levels are all necessary actions for both CMS and practice trading partners in the private sector. Without this preparation, there will be significant increases in cash flow disruptions to practices that will affect the ability to treat patients."
Some people have so many concerns about ICD-10 that they believe that it should not come at all. For example, Government Health IT reported on an article by J.D. Tuccille, managing editor at Reason.com, titled "If Obamacare Doesn't Kill Small Medical Practices, Bureaucratic ICD-10 Coding Requirements Might."
"Lines of credit might step in where available cash is short, but banks issue lines of credit to good risks – not medical practices already struggling in an uncertain regulatory environment," Tuccille wrote. "If you're a doctor, now is a good time to look at your cash flow, or your retirement options."
However, many health care professionals have explained that ICD-10 will allow for doctors to code with a greater amount of specificity, ensuing that billing will be more accurate and potentially decreasing fraud.
Regardless of how people feel about ICD-10, they need to understand that it is coming, and unless the government decides otherwise, providers will have to switch to it in October. Providers who feel as though they need help to prepare for this change should reach out to other providers who are further along in the testing process than they are, and they should be talking to their vendors to make sure they will be ready as well.