On April 1, 2014, President Obama signed into law the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014. Buried in this law is Section 12 which blocks the HHS secretary from implementing ICD-10 before October, 2015. For all you physician practices out there, this may come as a bit of a relief. The conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10 involves an enormous effort for a practice as it affects every person, process, and system throughout the organization. This includes everyone doing coding, updating medical records, preparing claims, submitting and processing claims, processing payments, and managing the practice.
Every system will be impacted. At a minimum, this will require updates or upgrades. In more situations, this will require migrations to new systems all together. While this deferral may be a welcome breather, it is in no way a reprieve. The train is still on the tracks and the throttle is still wide open.
Practices should not let this deferral put off their initiatives to make their systems ICD-10 ready. Continue with your efforts to upgrade and / or replace EMR and Billing systems that won’t support the changes required. If you are nearing completing, keep moving forward and use this extra time to train and refine your processes and procedures. Continue training your personnel on changes. Keep your cash reserves healthy and in a position to support the practice during the transition period. As we all know, regardless of the best planning we do in preparation, this change involves a great number of factors which are outside the practices control. There will be delays in processing claims and receiving payments. Make sure your practice has the reserves needed to make your way the way to the next station.
Shawn is the VP of Consulting, co-owner and founding partner. Shawn is the developer of Stat-Connect, the financial management reporting tool for the health care industry.