Physician practices still sweating ICD-10 transition despite deadline delay

September 6, 2012

The overwhelming majority of physician practices are concerned about the prospect of transitioning to the ICD-10 coding system, according to a new survey.

The overwhelming majority of physician practices are concerned over the prospect of transitioning to the ICD-10 coding system, according to a new survey.

A recent 1-year delay of ICD-10 implementation until 2014 by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has done little to quell medical professionals’ queasiness: 96% of 480 respondents to a survey by health information technology firm Nuesoft Technologies said they were concerned about the transition’s potential effect on their practices.

More than 73% of the survey’s respondents said the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision) transition process would negatively affect their operations and finances, plus their and their staffs’ “state of mind,” according to the survey.

The survey was administered to physicians, administrators, office managers, and billers.

The new ICD-10 system includes about 155,000 medical codes, compared with about 17,000 in ICD-9. The more detailed level of specificity required by ICD-10 will affect many aspects of practice management, including documentation, billing, workflow, and quality reporting.

HHS maintains that the new coding system will create more specific data and better reflect current medical practices, which could help providers improve case management and care coordination.

Medical Economics reported on a survey in mid-July from HealthEdge; it found that only 61% of payers were ready to implement ICD-10. An executive with the Medical Group Management Association–American College of Medical Practice Executives (MGMA-ACMPE) said last month that preparedness remains a concern.

"We are not confident that critical trading partners, including Medicare and state Medicaid plans, will be ready in time to conduct testing well in advance of the October 2014 compliance date," said Susan Turney, MD, MS, FACP, FACMPE, president and chief executive officer of MGMA-ACMPE.

As a result of the move to ICD-10, physicians will need to provide more specific documentation to support their selection of the more detailed codes or so that coders can select the correct diagnosis codes.

To prepare, medical and public record forms, superbills, and electronic health record (EHR) templates will need to be reviewed in advance to capture the most-used ICD-10 codes. In addition, healthcare providers should ensure that their practice management, EHR, and other office systems have been updated to accept and use the new codes.