Medical practices lag in ICD-10 preparations

February 11, 2014

The vast majority of practices have done nothing to get ready for ICD-10 or are only "somewhat ready."

The nation’s medical practices are lagging badly in their preparations for converting to the International Classification of Diseases-10th Revision (ICD-10) coding system, a recent survey from the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) finds.

When asked to rate their practice’s “overall readiness level for ICD-10 implementation,” only 9.4% of respondents said they have made “significant process,” whereas 79% said either they had not yet started implementation or were only “somewhat ready.” None said they had completed implementation.

“The critical coordination that must take place between practices and their software vendor, clearinghouse, and health plan partners is simply not happening at the pace required for a seamless implementation,” says Susan L. Turney, MD, MS, MGMA president and chief executive officer. “Very simply, ICD-10 is behind schedule.” The date for switching from the current ICD-9 coding set to ICD-10 is October 1, 2014.

           Other findings from the survey:

  • Nearly 87% of respondents said their electronic health record (EHR) system will or did need to be upgraded or replaced to accommodate ICD-10 diagnosis codes. Of that group, slightly more than half (50.7%) said the replacement cost was, or will be, covered by their vendor.

  • 51.5% or respondents said their practice management system (PMS) will allow them to assign either an ICD-9 or ICD-10 code to a claim for some period of time after October 1.

  • About 55% of respondents plan to begin ICD-10 testing with their EHR system between June 1 and October 1. Slightly more (57%) say they will begin testing with their PMS in the same timeframe.

  • About 67% of respondents said that choosing the appropriate diagnosis code would be “much more difficult” under ICD-10. Other anticipated difficulties include “ability to include most-frequently used diagnosis codes on a superbill” (60.3%), and “ability to document the patient encounter (42.4%).

Responses to the survey came from more than 570 physician group practices that included more than 21,400 doctors.