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WEDI tells HHS to step up credibility to make ICD-10 shift stick


By Darius Tahir
Posted: June 5, 2014 - 6:45 pm ET
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Citing burdens of the oft-delayed ICD-10 coding system, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange sent a letter to HHS asking the agency to better manage the transition process.

The nonprofit group urged HHS to consider 13 different action steps, beginning with “establishing credibility.” The agency must convince the healthcare industry that the ICD-10 system will not be delayed again, WEDI stated, and suggested setting a “hard date” for implementation —such as Oct. 1, 2015, the deadline the CMS has established as the ICD-10 deadline. However, past deadlines have been extended, most recently by an act of Congress earlier this year.

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Several action points suggested by the WEDI letter include improving communication from the agency about its own efforts, and outreach to lagging or non-covered entities. For example, the letter suggested HHS could disclose its testing results, once it actually completes end-to-end testing.

“We believe the canceling of the limited July 'end-to-end' testing sent the wrong message to the industry,” the letter stated. “Rather than delay this critical form of testing until 2015, we recommend expediting and expanding this form of trading partner testing.”

Public-sector testing could be complemented by private-sector efforts. “It is not practical or feasible for every provider and payer to test with each other,” the WEDI letter said. “Rather than trying to conduct a massive end-to-end industry testing process, it would be more beneficial to establish selective testing processes that illustrate that each key function is working correctly.”

WEDI thinks that focusing on the positives might help. The WEDI authors wrote, “The message from HHS should focus on the potential improvements to healthcare that ICD-10 will have,” and suggested emphasizing that each provider will only use a subset of ICD-10.

“Mitigating the fear may lower resistance to the change. Use of success stories could illustrate the compliance effort may not be as difficult as anticipated and that payments will be similar,” the letter said.

The WEDI letter also encouraged outreach and education, including clinical documentation improvement. One possible vector for improved education, it suggested, could be the regional extension centers funded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology as a part of its meaningful-use program for electronic health records.

The letter also argued for targeted outreach for non-covered entities, like workers' compensation plans, which aren't required to adopt ICD-10.

Follow Darius Tahir on Twitter: @dariustahir


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