Now That ICD-10 Is Delayed, Too, What Should Providers Do?

Tony Berberabe, MPH

While the sustainable growth rate (SGR) debate has been put off for 2014, what should physicians be looking to as the transition to ICD-10 has been delayed for the second time in two years?

Large hospitals and payers were making progress in switching over, according to reports, but physician practices have been decidedly slower in moving ahead and getting ready for the change. The new deadline for rollout, now moved to at least October 1, 2015, is still problematic for physician practices who are still unsure of when exactly they should invest the resources in preparing for the switchover, especially if they’ve currently been making slow progress.

Mitch Morris, MD, vice chairman and national healthcare provider lead at Deloitte wrote in an article that physician providers “should consider developing a plan that addresses how the new timeline will impact budgeted resources, technology updates and testing, collaboration timing, training plans and overall connection to organization-wide initiatives.” His suggestions appear in the article, “My Take: ICD-10: Dealing With Uncertainty When the Stakes Are High.”

For practices that are further along, this delay may be an opportunity for additional system testing, including integration testing and end-to-end evaluation. It also affords a chance for the evaluation of “other initiatives originally placed on hold, such as a new revenue cycle system implementation or computer-assisted coding tools,” according to Morris.

Pushing the deadline further out also allows practices to train and rehearse using the new code set; traditionally these elements are compressed and testing is hurried for many physician organizations. Those practices that have encountered early problems with code selection can also capitalize on the chance for additional training and practice.

Morris writes that “Providers should consider keeping the training plan on target to increase user experience with the new code set. This may help reduce the need for so many external coding resources through increased productivity. Additionally, organizations could repurpose resources on clinical documentation efforts that are focused on both ICD-9 and ICD-10 to improve documentation and incorporate such elements into the electronic health record.”

A copy of the article is available here.
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