Electronic Health Records

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Why are providers suddenly so confident about ICD-10?

By Jennifer Bresnick

- For the past two or three years, ICD-10 surveys have all basically been the same.  Filled with panic, confusion, distrust, and dismay, there is rarely anything positive to say about the industry’s blindfolded three-legged race towards October 1, 2014.  However, new data from Navicure presents a different picture.  For the first time, large numbers of providers are putting the words “ICD-10” and “optimism” in the same sentence, even as they admit in the next breath that they’re way behind on their preparations.  Is this a good sign that the industry is finally getting a grip on the transition process, or is it a mark of hubris that will ultimately set healthcare organizations up to fail?

Following up on a similar survey conducted in the spring of 2013, which revealed that nearly one in four providers hadn’t a clue where to start their ICD-10 process, the fall 2013 data paints a completely different picture.  Nearly 90% of providers in the new poll express some amount of confidence that they will be prepared.  Twenty-two percent are even “very confident”, but 74% haven’t even started implementing their transition plan.  Few providers are worried about the impact of receiving and implementing upgrades to their EHR, practice management, or clearinghouse software, but 40% of practice management vendors and 50% of EHR vendors haven’t discussed their readiness with their customers to any significant degree.

There is also widespread belief that claims will be processed in a relatively timely manner with few disruptions to the revenue cycle.  Forty-three percent think that their productivity will drop less than 20% after the transition date.  One quarter of respondents think that more than 80% of their claims will be reimbursed without a hitch.  Contrasting Navicure’s data to another recent finding by KPMG, which states that few providers have adequately assessed the business impacts of ICD-10, turns the rosy optimism into a dangerously blind faith that might end up leaving many providers holding empty piggy banks come October 1.

Indeed, even a third of the Navicure respondents admit that they haven’t established budgets for technology upgrades or ICD-10 training.  While this number has dropped from 47% earlier in the year, it still shows a worrying lack of forward thinking.  For half of providers, the idea of end-to-end testing still lives somewhere in the future.  A third still firmly believe that there is plenty of time to get everything done, and 7% even believe they can hold off the beginning of the preparation process until June of 2014.

And so the data begs the question of why providers are suddenly so cheerful when the numbers still show a woeful lack of progress.  Phrases like “critical need” and “rude awakening” continue to pour forth from experts warning about the challenging path that lies ahead of the industry in 2014.  Are providers willfully ignoring the doomsayers, or do they know something the experts don’t?  Confidence is admirable only when it isn’t misplaced.  While we all hope providers will pull up its socks and leap over the final hurdle with plenty of room to spare, the large gap between attitudes and achievements is concerning, to say the least.


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