The health care industry may not be ready for ICD-10 as hoped

As the ICD-10 implementation date approaches, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is hoping that the health care industry is prepared for the drastic changes that it will experience as a result of the new coding system.

It is crucial that providers are using the resources at their disposal and training their staffs to efficiently make the transition. If they find themselves unprepared, their practices will be negatively impacted when processing and filing claims. 

Is the industry really prepared?
To keep health professionals up to date on the amount of time they have left until the Oct.1 deadline, the CMS has a countdown published on its website, down to the seconds. Providers and payers have around six months until they have to switch to the ICD-10 codes. 

Health care professionals may know exactly how many days they have left before the deadline, but many are still not as prepared as they should be to guarantee a smooth transition. The CMS has provided multiple online resources like the Road to 10 guide. However, a recent survey conducted by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Exchange showed that only 25 percent of providers are prepared, which means that these resources have either proved unhelpful or have not been used as frequently as they should. 

The industry is beginning to show concern as the implementation date draws nearer, according to a report by CNBC. Small practices in particular are becoming increasingly worried. EHR Intelligence noted that although there is currently a lot of fear spreading throughout the health care sector, providers should focus on the benefits that the new coding system will provide. For example, it will improve diagnostic codes and eliminate those that are no longer relevant, ultimately enhancing overall care quality. 

"Healthcare technology, particularly health IT, is an area where a great deal of innovation is taking place, leading to the creation of new jobs," Sylvia Burwell, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a public statement. "And as we work to transform our healthcare delivery system to one that is smarter, provides better care and spends our dollars more wisely, there is a tremendous opportunity to improve value and choice for consumers and providers by empowering them with information."

SGR bill shows ICD-10 delay is unlikely
There is no avoiding the fact that switching from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will raise the number of codes from 17,000 to 140,000. This sharp increase emphasizes the need for providers to properly train their practice, but it also shows how this new detailed data will assist physicians in accurately diagnosing their patients. 

As reported in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, providers and payers should no longer hope for another ICD-10 delay, as the House of Representatives recently passed the Sustainable Growth Rate bill with a vote of 392 to 37 without mentioning anything about a possible upcoming delay.

However, there is still a chance for opposition from the Republican Senate in regard to the passing of the SGR bill. Even though there is no one who has announced plans to block the bill, senators Ron Wyden, Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy and Ben Sasse showed criticism toward the legislation when it was initially introduced. 

As the transition date approaches, providers should focus on training their staff and focusing on the advantages that their patients will experience as a result of the more detailed coding system. As there is only around 175 days left until implementation, they should push suspicions of a potential delay out of their minds and start to upgrade to compliant health IT and begin testing new systems to reap the benefits of the transition when it is made.