Healthcare providers are generally progressing toward Y2K readiness, but final testing and contingency planning are lagging behind, and some providers admit they don't intend to mobilize contingency plans.
Those are among findings of a survey by HHS' inspector general's office on the Y2K readiness of Medicare providers. Conducted in July and released last week, the survey also revealed a lack of progress among hospitals in securing their biomedical equipment.
In the three years since computer glitches associated with the new millennium emerged as a threat, more than 70% of hospitals and 65% of physician practices have completed their projects to eliminate Y2K problems with billing and medical records systems, according to the report.
But 30% of hospitals and doctors had not tested their billing systems, and 40% of physician practices had yet to test their records remedies.
The acid test of a billing system is its ability to exchange claims information with a Medicare fiscal intermediary using 2000 in dates, but more than half of hospitals and physicians surveyed hadn't done a dry run, the report said.
With just five months left at the time the survey was taken, only 27% of hospitals reported that all of their biomedical equipment was Y2K-ready-virtually unchanged from a similar study released in January. Nearly 6 in 10 physician respondents reported their equipment ready in July, up from 4 in 10 in January.
Hospitals, which operate thousands of devices equipped with computer chips, were much more likely than physician offices to do their own time-consuming testing instead of relying solely on vendor statements, the survey revealed. And half the hospitals reported problems getting Y2K information from manufacturers, compared with 16% of physicians.
About 60% of hospitals had completed contingency plans in case of Y2K-related failures. But fewer than half had tested those plans. Only 1% of hospitals said they won't devise a contingency plan, but 30% of physician practices don't intend to complete such a plan by year-end.