The compliance deadline for ICD-10 has been pushed back repeatedly. The latest delay, initiated by Congress, reset the ICD-10 start date as Oct. 1, 2015.
“While the delay provides more time for the transition to ICD-10, many organizations are not taking full advantage of this additional time,” Daley said. “Unless all industry segments make a dedicated effort to continue to move forward with their implementation efforts, there will be significant disruption on Oct 1, 2015.”
“Other factors that contribute to slow industry progress include competing internal priorities and other regulatory mandates, and, in the latest survey, readiness of other entities was also identified as an important factor,” according to the letter.
The survey was WEDI's ninth since 2009 when an HHS rule set an initial Oct. 1, 2011 deadline for the mandated adoption of the International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision of diagnostic and procedural codes.
This new WEDI poll, conducted in August, garnered responses (PDF) from 324 providers, 103 health plans and 87 health IT system vendors.
On the hopeful side, more than half of health plan respondents surveyed indicated their organization has already begun external testing, that is, moving claims and other electronic communications coded in ICD-10, between themselves, providers, claims clearinghouses and other organizations—a proof of system readiness.
Only a quarter of health plans were doing external testing at the previous WEDI survey conducted in October 2013. Nearly three-fourths of plans had started internal testing of their systems for ICD-10 readiness, the latest survey showed, compared with less than one-forth last October.
Vendors seem to be coming along as well, with roughly two-thirds of those polled indicating their ICD-10 upgraded products and services are now available, nearly twice as many as in the October survey.
Still, more than a quarter of the vendors surveyed responded that either their products wouldn't be ready until 2015, or their readiness date is “unknown.”
On the other hand, there is worrisome data coming from providers in the survey.
And without products upgraded to ICD-10, providers are left in the lurch. Only about a third of providers have done end-to-end testing in which they have prepared and sent an ICD-10 configured claim to a claims clearinghouse or plan and had received a response. That's substantially below the 60% of respondents in the 2013 survey who expected to be doing end-to-end testing in 2014.
Further troubling, when asked when they expect to start doing end-to-end testing, more than one-half of respondents indicated either not until 2015 or responded “unknown,” with smaller providers predominating in this group.
Providers were evenly split when asked about their top three obstacles to ICD-10 readiness, with staffing issues, competing priorities, vendor readiness and the impacts on their IT systems all frequently mentioned.
Industry leaders had mixed reactions to the survey findings.
“The WEDI survey suggests that many key physician practice trading partners are not yet ready for the transition to ICD-10,” said Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for the Medical Group Management Association. “We will continue to advocate for government and industry stakeholders to take the critical and essential steps necessary to ensure that the implementation of ICD-10 occurs without negatively impacting the claims payment process and, ultimately, patient access to care.”
A small number of providers, who were well prepared last year before the deadline was shifted, are ready again now for the ICD-10 conversion, said Russell Branzell, president and CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives. Preparations for the rest simply stalled in the congressionally imposed delay earlier this year.
“So right now, they're just starting to ramp up,” Branzell said. “I'm confident the hospitals will be ready, but I'm concerned for some of our physician partners. The coding and documentation will be difficult for them.”
Lynne Thomas Gordon, CEO of the American Health Information Management Association, said the variance in readiness is “the same song, second year.”
“I think most of the segments of the industry are moving forward, except small practices,” said Thomas Gordon, adding she spoke recently with a physician about ICD-10 and got an earful about the daily grind doctors face.
“That's where the struggle is,” she said. “They're trying to see a lot of patients and they don't have a lot of support. Everyone else is moving along.”
Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn