Time Ticks Down on ICD-10, but Survey Finds a Lack of Progress

By Joseph Goedert for HealthData Management

A new survey from the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange on ICD-10 preparations-the seventh survey since late 2009-finds a disturbing lack of industry progress during the past year.

WEDI in February 2013 surveyed 974 industry participants, comprising 87 vendors, 109 health plans and 778 providers, and compared results with a much larger sample survey in February 2012 that posed the same questions.

Results show that nearly half of responding payers expect to begin external testing by the end of 2013, but a year earlier all surveyed plans expected to begin testing in 2013. Two-thirds of vendors plan to begin beta testing by the end of 2013, which is similar to the percentage that last year expected to start testing by the end of 2012. Half of responding providers in February 2013 did not know when they would complete an impact assessment and make business changes, or when they would start to test.

Consequently, many organizations won’t start testing until 2014, says Jim Daley, chair of WEDI. The ICD-10 compliance date is Oct. 1, 2014. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently confirmed that the date will not change; WEDI on April 11 sent a letter with its survey results to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

Survey results actually may reflect a higher level of readiness than the industry is really at, WEDI cautions. Survey invitations were sent out through WEDI’s newsletter, via e-mail to members on the WEDI mailing list, and through partner organizations. “Historically, WEDI membership and survey participants tend to be more aware of industry issues and correspondently more advanced in addressing these issues,” WEDI notes in the letter to Sebelius, available here. “Therefore, the survey results would tend to provide a somewhat more advanced picture of readiness progress.”

Other survey results, which indicate many organizations are spinning their ICD-10 wheels, include:

  • One-sixth of responding vendors have started testing, and a fifth expect to start in 2014, which is the same number that expected to start tests in 2013. One-fifth of vendors said their ICD-10 products were ready, the same number as last year. Top vendor barriers were customer readiness, competing priorities and other regulatory mandates.
  • Half of vendors indicated the delay in the compliance date until October 2014 resulted in delaying the timeline of major ICD-10 projects, but did not change resources assigned to the tasks. More than half of payers also reported delaying their timeline. One-third of providers delayed their timeline more than six months, but about 40 percent said there was no delay.
  • More than 40 percent of providers do not know the expected completion date of their ICD-10 impact assessment, or when they will complete business changes, both of which are roughly the same numbers as a year ago. About half of responding providers don’t known when they will start external testing, also about the same percentage as in 2012.

The bottom line, WEDI says in its letter to Sebelius, is that health plans have made some progress since early 2012 but vendors and providers have not. “Provider readiness appears to be a major concern in meeting the 2014 compliance deadline. Unless more providers move quickly forward with their implementation efforts, there will be significant disruption on Oct. 1, 2014,” with inadequate time for end-to end-testing in the CMS suggested timeframes (starting Oct. 1, 2013), as the industry will not be ready.

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