Don't be fooled by easy start to ICD-10

ICD-10 implementation may not have turned out to be the nightmare many practices feared, but it's still had a significant impact on offices, according to a new survey from Physicians Practice.

Highlights from the publication's online poll include the following:

  • Nearly half (47 percent) of responding practices said they were experiencing no more claims rejections than usual, while 15 percent said they were dealing with significant claims delays or denials
  • Practices were roughly split as to whether the new coding system has had a significant impact on their work flow, with 54 percent saying their pre-conversion training helped prevent hiccups and 46 percent reporting slowdowns
  • Most respondents (77 percent) said they believe the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) one-year grace period in which claims can't be denied solely on specificity will be helpful to their practices

Despite relatively uneventful early experiences with ICD-10, practices must be careful not to get complacent with their use of the new system, according to an article from Medical Economics.

"Payers would have been out of their minds to bring the hatchet down post ICD-10," Elizabeth Woodcock, president of an Atlanta-based physician practice consulting firm, told the publication. "Physicians would have balked, and even Congress was on keen alert to make sure implementation went smoothly."

Woodcock and other experts expect the claims environment to gradually get more difficult before CMS' grace period closes. For example, she said she's already seeing an uptick in denials for preauthorization requests and delays while claims sit in "medical review."

The key to keeping small problems from growing into larger ones, FiercePracticeManagement reported previously, is to maintain ICD-10 communication and education throughout the next year and beyond.

To learn more:
- see the poll results from Physicians Practice
- read the Medical Economics article