Don't fall behind on ICD-10 implementation


The switch to newer diagnostic and procedural codes to meet compliance for ICD-10 no doubt has been weighing heavily on the minds of healthcare leaders across the industry for quite some time. Due to the complex structure of the codes, the process of implementing and testing the changes is expected to be time-intensive and costly.

What's more, with the recent declaration by CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner that the ICD-10 deadline would not be pushed out a second time, providers who had been hoping to postpone those efforts to instead focus on other projects now must plan accordingly, or risk not being paid once the Oct. 1, 2014 deadline hits.

Christine Armstrong, principal at Deloitte, recently spoke with FierceHealthIT about where providers are in that process and what remains to be done.

FierceHealthIT: How are you feeling about the timeline and the amount of work that's been done so far?

Armstrong: It seems that most people have a lot of work ahead of them. Some organizations jumped ahead, then with the delay, they stopped, then had to regain momentum. Most providers--and that includes hospitals and physicians--still have a lot of work ahead of them.

There still are quite a number of organizations that haven't started their planning yet, and we certainly would encourage them to do that. The organizations that are in implementation now are finding that it's taking longer than they originally thought, whether it be training or education or working with their vendors to get their systems upgraded or their testing plans--both internal and external. The time that it's taking, with everything else they have on their plate, is just taking longer.

FierceHealthIT: What are the particular frustrations?

Armstrong: Most people just want the date to stick, to know that is their end game. The challenges that people are encountering have to do with everything else going on in the healthcare industry at the same time. Preparing for Meaningful Use, the impacts of healthcare reform, looking at cost reduction, resource constraints, and preparing for ICD-10 just poses challenges for a lot of organizations.

People are worried about all these initiatives and timelines kind of superimposing on one another. Making sure you have the right resources is becoming a bit of a challenge, so again, the more time you give yourself to prepare, the less of a crisis activity you'll be in.