ICD-10 not a given despite potential for Meaningful Use delay

Most healthcare providers would be glad to see Stage 2 of Meaningful Use delayed until 2014, as a workgroup of the Health IT Advisory Committee has suggested. But will the postponement ensure that providers have adequate time to prepare for the mandatory switchover to the ICD-10 diagnostic set, starting Oct. 1, 2013? That's what the committee thinks, but opinions on the subject are divided.

Robert Tennant, senior policy advisor to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), told Government Health IT that it's not clear that providers will be ready for ICD-10 by the deadline, in any case. "If you're banking on the industry to make ICD-10 on time, think again. It's unlikely that transition will be seamless."

The industry already is behind the curve on ICD-10. For instance, the government requires all providers to use the 5010 transaction set--a prerequisite for billing with ICD-10 codes--by Jan. 1, 2012. But a majority of the respondents to a recent MGMA survey said that they haven't undergone critical software upgrades or scheduled testing of the new transaction set with health plans.

Unlike meaningful use, ICD-10 is a mandate. Providers who don't show meaningful use by 2015 will lose a small portion of their Medicare reimbursement, but those who don't adopt ICD-10 won't be able to bill third-party payers for their services. So it would seem that ICD-10 should be a higher priority for providers.

Nevertheless, most of the media discussion right now is about meaningful use, and many doctors and hospitals falling in line with that stance. Perhaps things will change as the ICD-10 deadline approaches. Or maybe the government will blink, as it did with the HIPAA 4010 transaction set and the National Provider Identifier. But don't count on it.

To learn more:
- read the article in Government Health IT
- see the MGMA survey

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