Hospitals increasingly plan to outsource coding efforts

Hospitals increasingly plan to outsource coding efforts in the coming year, according to a new survey published today by Black Book Rankings.

Of 650 hospital IT and physician leaders who responded to the survey, 19 percent said they currently are outsourcing their coding work. Forty-seven percent of respondents, however, indicated that they'll turn to outsourcing by Oct. 1, 2015, the anticipated new deadline for switching from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

Fifty-one percent of respondents said they'll be ready to implement ICD-10 without outsourcing.

"Transitioning to ICD-10 is a complicated process and hospitals are leaning on the expertise and successes of outsourcing vendors," Black Book Managing Partner Doug Brown said in a statement. "We still operate in an ICD-9 world, complicated by [electronic health record] implementations, value-based reimbursement models, compliance issues and optimizing reimbursement; a perfect storm from which outsourcers have the expertise to shield their clients."

Lack of in-house IT expertise, increasing need to integrate disparate systems, and growing pressure to meet Meaningful Use criteria and implement ICD-10 are among the factors at play in the growth of the global healthcare IT outsourcing market; by 2018, the market is expected to reach $50.4 billion.

Overall, 88 percent of 200-plus bed hospitals surveyed about outsource clinical documentation improvement efforts said they have realized at least $1 million in gains in appropriate revenue and proper reimbursements upon implementation of a CDI program prior to any ICD-10 efforts. According to a survey published last month by the American Health Information Management Association and the eHealth Initiative, providers remain skeptical about how ICD-10 will impact reimbursement.

For instance, 20 percent said they believe that switching over from ICD-9 will improve reimbursement efficiency, while 33 percent think efficiency will suffer.

Research recently published in the journal Pediatrics determined that the switch to ICD-10 could have a substantial impact on pediatricians' financial bottom lines.

To learn more:
- here's the Black Book announcement