ICD-10 Transition Costs Lower Than Previously Estimated, Study Says

November 14, 2014 in News

The costs for small physician practices to transition to ICD-10 could be significantly lower than previously estimated, according to a study published online in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, Health Data Management reports (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 11/13).

Background on ICD-10

U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. The switch means that health care providers and insurers will have to change out about 14,000 codes for about 69,000 codes.

In April, President Obama signed into law legislation (HR 4302) that pushed back the ICD-10 compliance date until at least October 2015 (iHealthBeat, 11/6).

In July, CMS announced a final rule that established Oct. 1, 2015, as the new ICD-10 compliance deadline for payers and providers still making the transition (iHealthBeat, 8/1).

Study Details

The study, conducted by 3M Health Information Systems, is based on the results of surveys, published reports and ICD-10 conversion experiences from hospitals and physicians (Kravis et al., Journal of AHIMA, November 2014).

The researchers examined costs based on five categories:

  • End-to-end testing;
  • Productivity;
  • Software upgrade costs;
  • Super bill conversion; and
  • Training costs (Murphy, EHR Intelligence, 11/13).

For the study, the researchers defined a small physician office as one with three physicians and two affected staff members, such as coders or other office staffers (Health Data Management, 11/13).

Study Findings

The study found that transition costs for small providers are expected to be between $1,960 and $5,900, significantly less than the $22,560 to $105,506 estimates in a 2014 update to a 2008 Nachimson Advisors report to the American Medical Association (EHR Intelligence, 11/13).

The researchers cited several reasons for the lower cost estimate, such as:

  • Costs related to EHR adoption and other health care initiatives were included in previous estimates but are not directly related to ICD-10 conversion;
  • Clinician documentation and coding training tools are now available at lower costs; and
  • The coding industry’s knowledge and preparation for ICD-10 has increased since previous estimates (Health Data Management, 11/13).

In addition, the authors noted that previous estimates relied on inpatient hospital data, rather than studies of physician offices (Journal of AHIMA, November 2014).

The study also found that stakeholders have made progress in converting to ICD-10 with fewer resources than previous estimates thought would have been required.

The authors wrote, “Since new estimates of the costs for ICD-10 preparation are much lower than originally estimated, the barriers to ICD-10 implementation are much less than originally projected” (EHR Intelligence, 11/13).

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