CIOs sound off on financial implications of ICD-10 delay

By Mark Terry

When it comes to delays to ICD-10 implementation, healthcare providers feel like they're crouched at the starting line waiting for a firing gun that never goes off. And hospitals, in particular, are starting to calculate the increasing costs of ICD-10 implementation delays.

Clint Boulton, in a recent post in the Wall Street Journal, cited several hospital CIOs who are lamenting the expense of delay. For instance, Wesley Wright, CIO at Seattle Children's Hospital, pointed out that his hospital had already completed 50 percent of its ICD-10 testing and training, and was well on its way to meeting the 2014 deadline.

Now, Wright is evaluating how much it will cost to extend that training for yet another year. He said he plans to continue to implement upgrades and train physicians, but added that the cumulative impact of the delays have made it difficult to sell staff on the fact that this delay will be the last one.

"The analogy I'd use is the 'boy who cried wolf,'" Wright told the Wall Street Journal.

Indeed, most hospital and health system leaders reported they were ready for the transition in 2014. In a recent Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) survey of 139 hospital executives, 71 percent indicated they were ready for ICD-10 by fall of 2014. Still, more than 40 percent said they had not "established a testing plan with their top three to five payers."

Marc Chasin, CIO of St. Luke's Health System in Boise, Idaho, told the Wall Street Journal that as the result of the delay, hospitals will need to keep existing medical software in place that will require continued standards compliance while simultaneously upgrading to new systems that work with ICD-10. He added that the delay will increase costs for training at his facility from $300,000 to $450,000.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services last week announced that it soon will issue an interim rule mandating that healthcare providers must continue to use ICD-9 through September 30, 2015. It added that end-to-end ICD-10 testing scheduled to be conducted will be canceled due to the delay.

To learn more:
- read the Wall Street Journal post

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