Billing assocation calls for more standards for ICD-10 implementation

In implementing ICD-10, the healthcare industry must show that it learned valuable lessons from the convoluted 5010 transition in 2012, according to the Healthcare Billing and Management Association (HBMA).

Holly Louie (pictured), chair of the association's ICD-10/5010 Committee, called for more comprehensive standards to assess and encourage industry readiness of ICD-10 during her recent testimony before the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics Subcommittee on Standards.

If ICD-10 implementation fails, "the economic stability of America's healthcare reimbursement system will be at risk and could be severely compromised, affecting provider financial viability and patients' access to care," Louie said, according to an HBMA announcement.

Though the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has provided resources including timelines and checklists, HBMA believes it should provide benchmarks at critical points leading up to the Oct. 1, 2014, deadline.

Louie called the CMS decision not to conduct external testing "extremely problematic," saying that the organization believes providers are being misled by their vendors who say their tools will solve all their implementation issues. Louie also called for a full year of testing with payers and other partners.

"Perhaps the most important lesson learned from 5010, and other initiatives, was that testing was too little, too late, too superficial and too lacking in transparency. No time for corrective actions and/or remediation was built into the process," Louie said in her testimony.

A recent analysis by the American Health Information Management Association painted a bleak picture of ICD-10 progress. It found most implementation efforts either non-existent or in their infancy. Medical practices, in particular, are falling behind schedule, according to research from the Medical Group Management Association.

In an interview with FierceHealthIT, Christine Armstrong, principal at Deloitte, said the early implementers have found that the process is taking much more time than they planned, especially the internal and external testing. She urged organizations to build more time into their implementation timetables.

To learn more:
- here's the HBMA announcement
- read the testimony (.pdf)

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