Weeks have passed since the announcement of another delay in the implementation of ICD-10 code but mixed reactions from healthcare providers and payers keep coming in. The newest postponement of ICD-10′s implementation marks the third such delay since it was suggested in 2005, and it was a split decision among industry leaders. Those who are prepared are frustrated; those who aren’t are relieved. The question is: Did we make a good decision or a bad one?
Drawbacks of the ICD-10 Delay
Many healthcare systems, hospitals, and payers that have put a lot of effort and resources into getting ready for the shift from ICD-9 find the delay frustrating. According to some physicians, delaying the crucial and beneficial move to ICD-10 is adding more kinks to an already overdue transition.
- Placing Healthcare Even Further Behind
The pushback overlooks the major downsides of continuing to rely on ICD-9 – an inadequate coding methodology that should have been phased out years ago.
- Vanishing ICD-10 preparedness urgency
The delay may lead to a return of ‘business as usual’ and in a year we’ll be in the exact same panic many healthcare providers experienced.
- Real loss of time and money
The costs and efforts of those who have prepared are all gone to waste. Delaying the ICD-10 for another year could cost the healthcare industry from $1 to $6.6 billion.
- Increasing Pressure for 2015
Performing coordinated planning efforts for both EHR implementation and ICD-10 will be a burden and staff training will be a huge obstacle for practices that attempt to tackle both transitions at once.
Benefits of the ICD-10 Delay
On the other hand, some providers in the healthcare industry are relieved. Delaying the ICD-10 implementation gives these providers some breathing room, and allows them to find take on one challenge at a time.
- More time for financial preparations
The increase in complexity and volume of ICD-10 codes is anticipated to negatively impact practice revenue. Experts have suggested a 25% reduction in payments. The increase in time before implementation allows providers to make financial preparations.
- Adequate time to get familiarize with ICD-10
The delay will give providers and their staff enough time to learn and be comfortable with the ‘translation’ and expanded code set of ICD-10 which is a difference of TENS of THOUSANDS of codes.
- More methodical testing systems
It was just last month that CMS became willing to do end-to-end vendor testing on the new code set. With this reschedule of ICD-10, testing can be more methodical, ensuring success for the possible October 2015 implementation.
Next Step: Take Advantage of the Time
Using this extra time wisely will put the healthcare providers in much better shape when ICD-10 does come around. Rather than seeing the delay as a setback, coders should view it as valuable time to continue improving processes and enhance readiness.
Develop a long-term coder strategy. A strategy to retain and incentivize coders is needed.
Continue dual coding and training. Identify potential risk areas/issues between ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes.
Comprehensive system remediation & testing. Make a comprehensive plan to ensure all IT systems and partners are capable of receiving and producing ICD-10 codes for billing and internal/external reporting purposes.
Focus on physician education. CDI training will allow physicians more time to both learn and adopt the increased documentation requirements.
As someone who has been affected by this delay, do you think that it has given you a good effect or a bad one? Let us know about your thoughts and share them on the comments section below!