WEDI to feds: Ramp up ICD-10 testing efforts

The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange this week urged the federal government to conduct additional Medicare testing prior to the implementation of ICD-10 in a letter to U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Despite a recent announcement by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' on plans to conduct front-end ICD-10 testing between Medicare Administrative Contracts and their trading partners, WEDI Chairman Jim Daley said that such testing by itself might not be sufficient.

"The concept of trading partner testing was originally designed to validate the trading partners' ability to meet technical compliance and performance processing standards during the HIPAA Version 5010 implementation," he said. "However, it was discovered that front-end testing alone did not uncover issues that arose when the transaction data was processed by downstream applications. What was thought of as a relatively simple front-end change turned out to be much more complex and it took several months to resolve implementation issues and required the government to issue two contingency plans."

Daley called ICD-10 "much more complex than HIPAA Version 5010, adding that it boasts a much broader reach for hospitals, physician offices and payers.

"As such, this mandate will require the most significant testing to date," he said.

A recent survey conducted by New York-based advisory firm KPMG found both providers and payers to be significantly behind on several aspects of ICD-10 implementation, including system testing. Overall, 74 percent of respondents said they either had not, or had no plans to conduct end-to-end testing involving external entities.

Both the Medical Group Management Association and the American Hospital Association have pushed for the federal government to conduct ICD-10 testing. In her letter sent to Sebelius last month, MGMA President and CEO Susan Turney, like Daley, compared ICD-10 implementation and the need for testing to HIPAA Version 5010.

"While end-to-end testing will not ensure that this disruption will not take place, it will provide increased assurance to physician practices and other industry stakeholders that claims will be processed and highlight well before the compliance date any additional steps necessary for implementation," Turney said.

To learn more:
- here's the WEDI letter

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