is bringing a distinct lack of holiday cheer as the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) once again polls the preparedness levels of vendors, health plans, and providers as the industry approaches the October 1, 2014 implementation date. Results from the poll
, conducted in October of 2013, indicate a continued lack of preparedness, with only half of providers and three-fifths of health plans boasting a completed impact assessment and just one out of three payers currently conducting external testing.
“Based on the survey results, it is clear the industry continues to make slow progress, but not the amount of progress that is needed for a smooth transition,” writes WEDI Chairman Jim Daley in a letter addressed to CMS. “The industry is far behind the milestones suggested in the WEDI/NCHICA timeline, and has slipped further behind when compared to the February 2013 survey results
The worrying findings spare no one as all three major players in the industry continue to struggle with the requirements of the switch:
Nearly 200 providers responded to this quarter’s poll. The majority remains unsure when they will be able to complete their impact assessments and business changes or start external testing. As of October, 10% believed they would begin testing by the end of 2013, and 50% think they will start in the first half of 2014. However, both payers and providers indicate that they will only be testing with a sampling of partners.
Three-fifths of health plans have finished an impact assessment and another 20% indicate that they are almost done. Two out of every three payers expect to have started internal testing by New Year’s, which is slightly lower than the number that planned to be ready to begin this step during the February 2013 poll. One third of health plans are currently ramping up their external testing, and the majority of respondents believe they will get there by the summer of 2014.
Approximately 20% of vendors are halfway or less than half way done with product development, down from one half in the previous survey. Only 25% have EHR and practice management software ready to ship. Three fifths will begin beta testing and customer review by the end of 2013, but fewer vendors were confident of their end-of-the-year readiness plans in October than they were earlier in the year.
“People are finding this is bigger than they expect,” Daley told EHRintelligence
over the summer. “They’re finding that more time is needed. That’s a cautionary tale no matter what stage you’re in. So you’re very likely to be caught off guard if you don’t allow enough time. The biggest message is not to drag your feet. The date is there. CMS says it’s not moving. You’re putting your organization at risk if you’re not moving forward.”