Study Reflects Physicians’ ICD-10 Concerns

In a recent survey of nearly 400 physicians and office managers, 85 percent of respondents ranked the transition to ICD-10 as one of the top three issues currently impacting their practice.

Even though CMS plans to push back the deadline to implement ICD-10, originally slated for Oct. 1, 2013, transitioning to the new code set is one of the biggest stressors among physician practices.

In a recently released survey of 394 physicians and practice managers by EHR vendor Vitera Healthcare, 85 percent of respondents ranked the transition to ICD-10 including 5010 as one of the top three issues impacting their practice. According to Vitera researchers, the transition to ICD-10 affects healthcare employees in ambulatory practices in many different ways.

For starters, everyone is concerned about how the change will impact productivity. Practice managers are stressing about their increased workload, which includes coordinating training and managing implementation of new technology. The practice manager was cited by 53 percent of all respondents as the person leading the ICD-10 transition, according to the survey.

Meanwhile, billing managers, cited as the ICD-10 project leader by 23 percent of respondents, are concerned on how the changes will affect the flow of claims and receipt of payments.

And when it comes to physicians, the chief concern is that ICD-10 will take face time away from patients: Doctors will be so focused on using the more specific, alphanumeric codes, that they may end up shortening visits or seeing fewer patients in a day.

Of course, Vitera’s study isn’t the first time practices’ lack of readiness has been exposed. CMS’ decision to push back the ICD-10 deadline for a still-to-be-determined number of months came after extensive industry pressure. Still, ICD-10 isn’t going away, delay or no delay.

Matthew Hawkins, CEO of Vitera, told Physicians Practice that practices should start preparing now to avoid more stress later.

“Given all of the current priorities facing practice leaders - meaningful use, 5010, and ICD-10 - we are keenly aware that this going to be a stressful time for practices,” said Hawkins, via e-mail. “Like the extended timeline for 5010, a short extension of the ICD-10 may alleviate some of the shot-term tension surrounding ICD-10, but a long-term plan needs to be in place now and practices need to take advantage of the resources they have available.”

Specifically, the most important step practice leaders can take is updating their technology, said Hawkins. 

“Practice leaders need to use the resources they have available and draw upon their expertise and ask questions how to best prepare for the change,” said Hawkins. “The industry is undergoing major shifts that are changing the way things are done in healthcare. As a vendor, we communicate with physicians on a daily basis and we are learning that most practices understand the value of the transition and want to adapt.”

We want to hear from you. Has your practice pushed back plans to transition to ICD-10 in light of CMS’ announcement? Or has the announcement had little impact on your plans?