Practice managers fear wide-ranging impacts of ICD-10 implementation

Medical practice executives are deeply worried about the anticipated cost, loss of productivity and clinical documentation changes for ICD-10 conversion, finds a new study from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

According to the study, 56 percent of respondents said they were "very concerned" about the overall cost of implementation, 70 percent were very concerned about the clinical documentation changes and the loss of clinician productivity, and 67 percent were very concerned about losing staff productivity.

Additionally, 70 percent said they thought it would be "much more difficult" for coders to select the correct diagnosis code, while more than half said that a variety of related coding issues would be much more difficult for staff across the board.

More than two-thirds reported that they will have to upgrade their practice-management software to implement ICD-10 coding, and 60 percent said their electronic health record will have to be upgraded as well. Only a minority expected software vendors to cover the upgrade costs.

The average practice-management upgrade cost per physician was estimated at $10,190; EHR upgrade costs were estimated at $9,979 per physician.

Meanwhile, more than 40 percent of respondents said they weren't sure when ICD-10 testing was scheduled to begin for their practice-management and medical record software. Providers are supposed to switch to ICD-10 codes by Oct. 1, 2014.

The MGMA study also found that only 4.8 percent of more than 1,200 responding medical groups indicated that they had made "significant" progress in ICD-10 implementation.

The ICD-10 transition "is proving to be one of the most complex and expensive changes our healthcare system has faced in decades," MGMA President and CEO Susan L. Turney, M.D., said in a statement.

Hospitals aren't doing much better on ICD-10 implementation, if at all, according to a recent analysis by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

The AHIMA survey found that more than 50 percent of respondents were just beginning implementation, and more than one-fourth had yet to form an ICD-10 steering committee.

Meanwhile, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago found problems in mapping about 40 percent of ICD-9 codes to ICD-10, describing 36 percent of them as "convoluted," according to a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.

To learn more:
- read the study (.pdf)
- here's the MGMA statement
- check out the AHIMA report
- here's the JAMIA study