The healthcare industry at large has faced the music: everyone is switching to ICD-10 on October 1, 2015. That means every HIPAA-eligible professional is finally in the full swing of preparation, but seeing as how experts have been urging folks to prepare for roughly two years now, it’s unsettling that most of those practitioners still feel unprepared. According to a Healthcare IT news article summarizing a recent survey from Navicure and Porter Research, only 21% of physician practices surveyed said “they’re on track with their preparations for the switchover.” But while physician practices are running behind the preparatory timeline, they’re not crying about it. On the contrary—they’re actually “optimistic,” the Navicure and Porter Research survey revealed. Furthermore, a whopping 81% of practices surveyed are “confident they will be ready for the transition.”
Even though private practice physicians are confident they’ll be ready before the deadline, the study did highlight some immediate concerns: According to HIT Consultant, 41% of those surveyed aren’t sure if “they’ve budgeted for ICD-10,” and 59% “are most concerned about ICD-10 cash flow impact and revenue.” Other cited concerns included questionable payer readiness and potential productivity lags. While payer preparedness is out of practices’ control, they can control productivity—to an extent. As Navicure explains in its survey report, “Even with a well-trained staff, industry estimates indicate that staff productivity will decline by 52 percent for the first 3-6 months following the transition.” And decreased productivity has a ripple effect: “Lower productivity means slower claims turnaround and slower reimbursement.”
In addition to sharing the survey results, Navicure also emphasized some key takeaways, which I’ve summarized below.
- Many survey respondents said they were waiting on vendor software updates to test ICD-10. My advice: Don’t wait for your vendors. There are ways to test internally without vendor involvement.
- Develop a budget ASAP, and investigate how partnering with your bank and improving your billing processes can help ease the financial burden of the transition.
- Plan for decreased productivity, and pinpoint how to mitigate it. One way to do that? “Trend denials pre- and post-implementation to benchmark performance and fully monitor revenue cycle efficiency and staff productivity,” explained Navicure.
While Navicure and Porter Research surveyed private practice physicians, the results likely ring true for many PT practices, too. Feeling a bit unprepared yourself? Don’t sweat it; check out this webinar for your ultimate ICD-10 to-do list.