ICD-10 struggles continue to plague providers

Provider progress in transitioning to ICD-10 has been hampered by the most recent delay--enforced via the passage of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act last spring--according to survey results released this week by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI).

For the survey, conducted in August, WEDI received more than 500 responses, including 324 from providers, 87 from vendors and 103 from health plans. Smaller providers, in particular, indicate that they have struggled since the delay, with most unsure of when they'll complete their impact assessments. A majority of small providers also say they don't expect to begin external testing until next year, compared to more than half of large providers that said they already have started such testing.

"It appears the delay has negatively impacted provider progress, causing two-thirds of provider respondents to slow down efforts or place them on hold," WEDI chairman Jim Daley says in a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell that shares the survey's results. "While the delay providers more time for the transition to ICD-10, many organizations are not taking full advantage of this additional time."

Daley adds that unless all stakeholders make a "dedicated effort" to focus on implementation, the transition will cause "significant disruption" in the healthcare industry next fall. He urges Burwell and HHS to work with WEDI to promote future readiness surveys.

"WEDI offers our support to HHS to redouble efforts to assist the industry and, in particular, small providers in moving forward," the letter says.

A survey published earlier this month by SearchHealthIT and the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives determined just 11 percent of 326 healthcare organizations to be fully ready to implement ICD-10. Close to 60 percent of respondents said they had yet to start testing, while 41 percent of respondents said they expect to incur additional consultant retainer costs due to the delay.

Forty percent of respondents to a survey of 349 providers published in June by the American Health Information Management Association and the eHealth Initiative said they will be ready to go through with end-to-end testing by the end of this year.

In August, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced there will be three different testing weeks leading up to the Oct. 1, 2015, ICD-10 implementation. The first testing week takes place Nov. 17-21.

To learn more:
- here's the letter to Burwell with the survey results (.pdf)