Don't delay converting to ICD-10

It may seem far off now, but don't expect the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline for ICD-10 conversion to change.

No matter where you are in the process, make sure to do an assessment to get a better handle on where codes are used in your system, says Tom Durel, CIO of Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen, Texas.

The assessment, he told FierceHealthcare, will help you determine the scope of what needs to be done. At valley Baptist, for instance, there are 130 systems. About half depend on ICD codes to run. Assessment will also help answer these questions:

  • How much will it cost us?
  • How long will it take?
  • When will software suppliers have code available?
  • What sequence should things be done in to hit the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline?

"In my judgment, if you don't do this detailed assessment and just start down the path, it could get pretty well out of control pretty quickly and you would keep being surprised that you've got another system that you have to deal with that you didn't recognize initially," Durel said. His system is about 80 percent finished with its assessment.

Unlike Valley Baptist--where IT and executive leadership are on the same page--many hospitals are putting off the ICD-10 conversion, Lonnie Garrison, director of e-Health Solutions at Anthelio, a provider of health IT services, told FierceHealthcare. They're already struggling with staffing up for EHR and meaningful use readiness. Some, he said, are struggling to figure out who should spearhead the ICD-10 conversion. Funding is another challenge. "Meaningful use is competing for funding dollars within organizations," he said.

Valley Baptist started planning the conversion a year ago, starting with an awareness campaign so that leaders and physicians would understand that how the hospitals get paid will change in 2013.

Durel has heard from some people who don't think the conversion is a big deal. He thinks otherwise.

"Obviously, if you don't get it right, you're not going to get any bills out after Oct. 1, 2013," he said.

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