ICD-10 implementation gained greater currency this week with the release of a poll showing that nearly half of health providers don't know when they will complete their impact assessment, a key milestone that should have been met in 2011, according to the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), which conducted the survey.
The poll took place in February and interviewed nearly 2,600 respondents including 2,118 providers, 231 vendors, and 242 health plans. Results showed that although one third of providers expected to begin external testing in 2013, another half of respondents said they didn't know when testing would occur.
"The survey results were not that surprising. WEDI has been conducting these surveys since 2009, so we were able to see that the industry was falling behind," Jim Daley, WEDI's board chairman-elect, told InformationWeek Healthcare. "In 2010 we revised the timeline based on organizations' status, and then we began to see the organizations falling behind based on that new revised schedule. Given all of the activity around the 5010 migration, not all organizations were able to use the full resources needed for ICD-10 compliance."
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Health providers aren't the only ones having difficulty preparing for ICD-10 conversion. The poll found that most health plans do not expect to begin external testing until 2013, and although more than a third of health plans have completed their assessment, one quarter are less than halfway through. Furthermore, about one half of vendors said they are less than halfway through their product development cycle.
Complicating matters, respondents cited many reasons for the delays in planning and implementing ICD-10 code sets. Almost two-thirds said competing priorities are the issue, and almost half indicated other regulatory mandates were an issue. About a third said staffing was an issue, and a third said customer readiness was a concern. About a fifth said they were anxious about vendor readiness.
WEDI's results, which were submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, comes at a time when the industry anxiously awaits further guidance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
"We would like to see HHS emphasize the point that work should continue on ICD-10," Daley said. "... we see there is still a lot of work to do and, even if there is an extension, organizations need to keep moving forward. The amount of work required has not changed."
In February HHS announced its intention to postpone the date "by which certain health care entities have to comply with ICD-10," but has not as yet set a new deadline.
In the meantime, leading health organizations have expressed mixed views on HHS's decision. The American Medical Association (AMA) heralded the move saying it alleviates the burden on physicians who are implementing other technology such as electronic health records.
However, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME), the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS), and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) have criticized HHS's decision, saying the delay could disrupt IT plans at health organizations and cause them to lose the time and money they've already spent working toward the implementation date of Oct. 1, 2013.
WEDI's survey is in stark contrast to another study published by HIMSS at its February conference. The 2012 HIMSS Leadership Survey, which relied on responses from 302 healthcare IT professionals, found that two thirds of respondents reported that implementing ICD-10 was the top area of focus for financial IT systems at their organization. Additionally, nearly 90% of respondents indicated they expected to complete their ICD-10 conversion by the October 2013 deadline.
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