Early Congress delayed the implementation of ICD-10 as part of legislation that provided a one-year patch for the sustainable growth rate formula, a move that took the healthcare industry by surprise. Healthcare providers spent years–and significant amounts of money–preparing for the new code set, which the government delayed by a year once before, and was set to take effect Oct. 1, 2014.
Healthcare leaders are not pleased with the latest delay. “From a hospital perspective, enough already,” Linda Reed, vice president and chief information officer at Morristown, N.J.-based Atlantic Health said. “We’ve spent the money, done the work and started all the training. From a physician practice perspective, I’m not sure giving another year would make any difference in readiness. The extension from 2013 to 2014 didn’t.”
In live polling of healthcare providers conducted by Deloitte’s Center for Health Solutions during a webinar, 58 percent of respondents said they were disappointed by the delay, but 11 percent reported they were relieved at the prospect of extra time.
As the dust settles from the news of the delay, healthcare leaders and providers must decide how to take full advantage of the extra time. Here are three strategies healthcare leaders recommend.
Conduct further testing
Most providers plan to use the delay to conduct additional testing. “Should we get an additional year, obviously we are going to be strongly urging CMS to take advantage of the additional time and open up end-to-end testing with whoever wants to do it,” Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser at the Medical Group Management Association said. “Let’s get that information back out there so we can get that feedback loop going, so providers can be ready, should the date be October 1, 2015.”
Those who are further along in the transition should consider whether it is possible to continue technology testing in light of potential future system changes as well as vendor readiness. This updated timeline could also allow for additional testing waves for system upgrades, integration testing and an end-to-end evaluation including payer collaboration,” Morris wrote. “Additionally, an evaluation of other initiatives originally placed on hold, such as a new revenue cycle system implementation or computer-assisted coding tools, may now be a possibility with the delayed date.
Extend and improve training
Another way to take advantage of the delay is to extend and improve employee training. This could be particularly beneficial to providers and organizations that felt inadequately prepared for the Oct. 1, 2014 date. Organizations should consider developing a plan to capitalize on the additional time for further training and practice. Providers should consider keeping the training plan on target to increase user experience with the new code set.
The next step in training is not one-size-fits-all. It depends on where [providers] are at, relative to their training cycle.
Lastly, providers should make sure that, regardless of how long the delay lasts, they keep up the motivation they had prior to the announcement. Fifty-eight percent of respondents in polling worried that the delay would hurt momentum, compared to only 14 percent who believed they would have time to catch up.