Health systems must pay 'ICD-10 piper'

When healthcare systems bring on new providers, they must now "pay the ICD-10 piper," Linda Reed R.N., vice president and CIO at Morristown, New Jersey-based Atlantic Health System, writes at Hospitals & Health Networks.

Her group has brought in about 400 new providers in the past few years, and has acquired those practices' legacy electronic health record systems, which are not necessarily ready for the new coding system.

Many of the systems, says Reed, who serves on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board, needed extensive upgrading, while some could simply not be upgraded at all. The health system had to pay for the upgrades, as well as new hardware in some cases.

"Some practices knew that their EHRs would not be ICD-10-compliant, but now it is our problem," she writes. "Whether it is a technology upgrade, wholesale system replacement, training or just awareness, this is now something we have to stop and focus on."

Atlantic Health has a setup to bring in new practices to its EHR, but because of practices that have record systems that cannot be upgraded to accommodate ICD-10, the system is going to need to change how it does things.

Reed says they now will need to ask all potential physicians: "How ready are you for ICD-10?"

The deadline for the switch to ICD-10 is set for Oct. 1, a date many providers and lawmakers are hoping is set in stone.

It's time for the new system to be implemented, and continued delays are not likely to motivate organizations any more than the others ones did, adds pediatrician Michael Lee, director of clinical informatics at Atrius Health.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has two testing periods for ICD-10 left: April 26-May 1 and July 20-24.

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