What does the latest ICD-10 delay mean to your medical practices?

The persistent appeal for pushing back the ICD-10 compliance date has finally paid off for physicians; the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has made it official that physicians would have time till October1, 2014 (revised from the current deadline of October1, 2013) to comply with ICD-10 system of medical coding. The decision to extend the deadline is seen as a positive response to a majority of physicians who felt the original deadline too narrow to comply by voluminous and complex coding system.

While the latest revision would no doubt give providers and other covered entities more time to prepare and fully test their systems to ensure a smooth and coordinated transition to these new code sets, it would also delay stage 2 implementation, which requires medical practices to have demonstrated minimum duration of compliance in stage 1. Consequently, those physicians who started with the preparation as early as 2011 will get to progress to the stage 2 earlier than those who start with the stage 1 as late as October 1, 2014.

Along with this differential in progressing to the stage 2 of ICD-10 compliance, it is also important to know how this delay is going to play out in detecting the pace of ICD-10 implementation by physicians. While the one-year delay comes as a much needed relief for those practices that are yet to embark on the transition, it is also a sort of cushion for those who have actually started with the process and are on course to be ready by previous deadline.

The early adapters can use this opportunity to identify and focus on areas where they may have some weaknesses. The advice holds good even for those medical practices that are moving along nicely:

  • This unique scenario gives them enough time to streamline areas of their program that were potentially weak
  • Create a create a truly robust approach to test the company under ICD-10
  • Leverage trading partners in a pilot environment and focus on the risky areas that require time and attention

Conversely, the late adapters – those physicians that are not on course for the compliance by the October 2013 date– would do well not to procrastinate further but use this leeway for earnestly training on ICD-10 compliant medical coding. While they are numerous sources that offer ICD-10 training programs, physicians would do well to trust the proven credentials of Medicalbilliersandcoders.com (www.medicalbillersandcoders.com), which has rightfully earned their name as the leading consortium of medical billers and coders in the U.S.

Specifically designed to address challenges in ICD-10 implementation, its ICD-10 Compliance Training Program should come handy for both early adapters as well as late adapters.  Spread over two phases of intense training – phase 1 comprises updates sharing & building base for latest coding updates in about 35 weeks, and phase 2 covers the real ICD-10 Training – the program seeks to enrich participants’ knowledge base through a value-combination: transition tips from ICD9 to ICD 10, problem solving webinars, weekly updates on ICD implementation, FAQ documents on ICD 10, coding practices forum with other experts and participants.