Many providers still unprepared as ICD-10 deadline approaches

The deadline for full ICD-10 implementation is Oct. 1, 2015, but many healthcare providers remain unprepared, according to a new eHealth Initiative survey.

The survey, conducted over the last two months in conjunction with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), included responses from 271 healthcare providers.

Overall, 34% of respondents said they have completed internal testing, and 17% have completed external testing. Almost one of every five respondents has no current plans to conduct end-to-end testing.

The data also show a significant gap in preparedness between hospitals and private practices, though that gap may partially be explained by the fact that so many more respondents were from hospitals (60%) than were from private practices (18%). 85% of the respondents from hospitals have trained their staff on ICD-10 codes, for example, while 41% of the respondents from private practices have trained their staffs. And 38% of hospital the hospitals have completed internal testing, compared to 5% of private practices.

Providers are not confident about the immediate impact of ICD-10 implementation. While 6% of respondents said the transition will increase revenue, 38% said revenue will decrease. When asked why they have this belief, 78% of respondents said the transition will result in more denied claims or decreased reimbursement, and 80% said the drop in coding productivity or accuracy will increase costs.

Looking at long term, however, providers appear to see the good along with the bad. According to the survey, 38% of respondents think ICD-10 codes will make it easier to “analyze and report measures on performance, quality, and safety,” and 36% think it will be easier to conduct research.

On the negative side, however, 68% of respondents think the transition will make coding patient encounters more difficult, and 48% think it will make documenting those same encounters more difficult. In addition, 23% of respondents think it will be harder to negotiate contracts with health plans once the new codes are in place.

Back in April, a similar survey from WEDI showed that many in the healthcare sector were struggling to prepare for implementation. Numerous bills have been introduced to the House to stop or add a grace period to ICD-10 implementation, but there have been no signs that any of them will pass through.