When Canada implemented ICD-10 codes, it was only a fraction of what the U.S. plans to add on October 1, 2014.
The problem – productivity among physicians and billers/coders never returned to pre-implementation levels.
The American Academy of Professional Coders predicts the same for U.S.
The organization indicated that the sheer number of codes, combined with the new and unfamiliar alpha-numeric code combinations, could reduce productivity by up to 50 percent.
That translates into reduced reimbursements and greater turnaround times on claims.
The first few months of implementation will be a critical time for practices financially as they deal with inevitable errors that mistakenly deny claims and requiring multiple resubmissions, further slowing down the system and cash flow.
Experienced billers and coders are in short demand and those with in-depth knowledge of ICD-10 codes are even fewer.
Practices may find that those with expertise are taking employment as trainers and consultants, further narrowing the pool of ICD-10 specialists available to work in practices.
The lack of billers/coders familiar with ICD-10 codes will slowly increase as more are trained, but the shortage doesn’t bode well for practice owners trying to maintain their cash flow.
Complacency (The Notion that ‘It Will Get Delayed’)
Many practice owners aren’t moving as quickly as they should and preparing sufficiently for the coding transition, out of a sense of complacency.
Some are hoping another delay in implementation will buy them more time, while others either aren’t sure where to begin or view it as a simple software upgrade.
Some see the coding change as an inconvenience, and not one that’s a high priority.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has indicated there will be no more delays and the implementation will occur on Oct. 1, 2014 as planned. The organization has an extensive array of data, resources and timelines to assist practices prepare.
The ICD-10 transition will affect every practice.
Extensive training for staff, electronic medical record software upgrades and hardware systems will be required.
The procedure will place added stress on staff, disrupt normal office procedures, and affect the financial health of clinics.