The healthcare industry is being haunted by past delays in its preparations for the planned conversion this fall to ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codes, according to the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange.
“Unless all industry segments take the initiative to make a dedicated effort and move forward with their implementation work, there will be significant disruption on Oct. 1, 2015,” WEDI President and CEO Devin Jopp warned in a news release.
After HHS twice pushed back the ICD-10 compliance date and Congress imposed another postponement last year, “Uncertainty around further delays was listed as a primary obstacle to implementation” of ICD-10, appearing on more than half of all surveys from 1,174 respondents WEDI polled online in February.
Among those surveyed were 769 providers, 173 vendors and 205 health plans, according to the Reston, Va.-based not-for-profit organization.
Less ethereal obstacles include lack of vendor readiness, unavailable product and the paucity of testing. Only 6 in 10 surveyed indicated their vendor's products were ready for ICD-10 or they had started ICD-10 testing, according to the survey.
And just 1 in 4 respondents had begun external testing, that is, pushing claims coded in ICD-10 through their systems, either to payers or from providers.
The WEDI findings on ICD-10 were sent in a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell late last month.
“I think the most haunting message was that the delay was self-perpetuating,” said Jim Daley, director of IT for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina and past chairman of WEDI. Daley has been the one of the organization's point men on the code conversion, serving as co-chairman of the WEDI ICD-10 work group.
“The delay caused further delay,” Daley said. “Even though there was more time, some organizations didn't take advantage of it.”
But waiting is a strategy for failure, Daley said, since cash flow after Oct. 1 will depend on claims coded in ICD-10. The government is insisting, at least for now, that after the compliance date, Medicare claims will get bounced back if they're not coded in ICD-10.
Daley's advice to those not yet ready is: Don't be looking around. People need to take care of what they need to do in-house” before worrying about their peers or trading partners, he said. “Finishing early isn't a big problem—not finishing on time will be.”
Daley said WEDI plans to do one more industry survey on ICD-10 readiness this summer, which will give the industry and the government time to react to the findings.