In order to accommodate codes for new procedures and diseases, the ICD-9 coding system will transfer to a new system, ICD-10. The proposed transition has been met with resistance from the American Medical Association (AMA), who cite the fact that small practices are less prepared than larger ones for the financial and administrative challenges that the change poses. The CMS emphasizes the importance of implementation in a timely fashion and has voiced concerns about further delays. The adoption of EHR technology will help to ease the possible difficulties for providers in the transition, and allow them to remain in compliance with CMS Meaningful Use requirements and receive incentive reimbursements.
Concerns about ICD-10 Delays with Marylin Tavenner
According to Marilyn Tavenner, CMS Administrator, delaying the October 1st deadline for the implementation of the ICD-10 coding system will no longer be an option.
During a presentation to the HIMSS 2014 Annual Conference and Exhibition, Tavenner addressed the nature of the deadline. “We’ve already delayed our adoption standard, a standard the rest of the world has adopted many years ago, and we’ve delayed it several times, most recently last year. There will be no change in the deadline for ICD-10.”
The transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is designed to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. This switch means that healthcare providers and insurers will have to make the change to almost 69,000 codes from about 14,000 codes.
This past month, the AMA made an attempt to delay the ICD-10 once more. They stated that medical practices are not yet ready for the financial and administrative burden these changes can bring. Small practices can expect costs anywhere between $50,000 and $230,000 just to implement the new coding system. The CMS has also declined a request to offer a 90-day window in which it would operate with both ICD-9 and ICD-10.
While providers may not be ready for the changes ahead, the CMS has been taking the necessary steps to prepare for ICD-10. In 2011, the CMS began installing and testing system changes to get ready for ICD-10. This past week, they conducted a Medicare testing period so that providers and billing companies could determine if the CMS would accept their claims under the new coding system. The CMS also plans to have 500 volunteers participate in a series of tests in order to evaluate the government payment system.
How EHR Software Can Make the Transition Simple
2014 saw the start of the Meaningful Use Stage 2 program. It’s estimated that more than 60% of healthcare professionals and more than 80% of hospitals have EHRs that qualify for Meaningful Use. The Medicaid and Medicare incentive payments provided by Meaningful Use are likely to result in an increase in EHR adoption. In order to help providers manage the transition to ICD-10, EHR vendors are encouraged to meet the requirements for Meaningful Use Stage 2. Since 2011, the government has given over $5 billion to providers who meet the requirements for the adoption of EHRs. Additionally, practices using the Physician Quality Reporting System and e-prescribing programs have received almost $500 million in incentives.
ICD-10 and Meaningful Use Moving Forward
Healthcare is undergoing major changes in 2014 and the implementation of better healthcare technology will ultimately bring great improvements to patient care. Although the move from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will create new and unique challenges for small practices, an EHR system will help to ensure that the transition will be simple and manageable. With an EHR in place healthcare providers can also meet the CMS requirements for Meaningful Use Stage 2 in order to receive incentive reimbursements.