All of a sudden, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is putting pressure on the healthcare industry to comply with the Jan. 1, 2012 deadline for switching to the HIPAA 5010 transaction set and the Oct. 1, 2013 deadline for the changeover to the ICD-10 diagnostic code set.
CMS is doing this in the most benign manner by providing a series of "widgets" to help the industry make the transitions. Essentially a series of project management timelines for large providers, small providers, payers, and vendors, these widgets can be printed out as PDFs, downloaded to a desktop or mobile device, or shared via websites.
While the timelines start where providers should have been on Jan. 1, 2011, they also include goals for three months, two months, and one month before the 5010 deadline. Of course, unless a hospital or a practice has already completed internal testing and started external testing by now, it is behind on that timeline.
Under the ICD-10 plan, CMS envisions that by early next year, healthcare systems will begin training their staffs and be ready to start internal testing. They are supposed to start external testing in fall 2012. The following spring, CMS says, they should conduct intensive training for their coders. In summer 2013, they should complete external testing and begin the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 so they'll be ready to switch over entirely to ICD-10 by October.
CMS also has taken a couple of other steps to prepare for these major administrative changes. Last week, the agency selected 3M's ICD-10 Code Translation Tool to convert its own systems, applications and reports to the new codes. And it also recently declared a HIPAA 5010 Testing Week.
One could interpret all of this activity as a signal that CMS is not planning to postpone its deadlines. On the other hand, it could be an acknowledgment that the industry isn't coming to heel fast enough.