Study: ICD-10 Costs for Small Physician Practices Less Than Predicted

February 11, 2015 in News

Small physician practices will spend less money and time implementing ICD-10 than previously expected, according to a study published Thursday in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, Healthcare IT News reports.

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 by Oct. 1.

Details of Study

For the study, researchers with the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management polled 276 physician practices with fewer than six providers (Monegain, Healthcare IT News, 2/10). Respondents were asked about:

  • The cost of ICD-10 system testing and upgrades;
  • The cost of so-called “super bill” conversion (Walsh, Clinical Innovation Technology, 2/10);
  • The number of providers in their practice (Healthcare IT News, 2/10);
  • Their total ICD-10 implementation expenditures;
  • Training costs related to ICD-10 implementation (Clinical Innovation Technology, 2/10); and
  • Whether the providers in their practice were classified as direct caregivers, such as nurse practitioners, physicians and physicians assistants (Healthcare IT News, 2/10).

PAHCOM Director Karen Blanchette said respondents “reported actual data on expenses to date and costs still remaining,” giving the survey “the most comprehensive and current data on ICD-10 implementation costs actually being incurred by small physician practices” (Clinical Innovation Technology, 2/10).

Findings

The study found that practices spent an average of $8,167 on ICD-10 implementation, while individual providers spent an average of $3,430 (Healthcare IT News, 2/10).

Early estimates of ICD-10 implementation costs for small physician practices ranged from $22,560 to $105,506, according to a 2014 report by the Nachimson Advisors (Slabodkin, Health Data Management, 2/11).

According to the study, the findings show that “financial barriers to ICD-10 are significantly less than originally projected,” likely because of:

  • Providers’ adoption of electronic health record systems;
  • The “nominal cost” of “readily available” educational materials; and
  • “Vendor response to the implementation of ICD-10,” such as the inclusion of no-cost software updates.

Meanwhile, the study found that administrative staff members, coders, providers and others spent or plan to spend about 45.5 hours on education and practice time related to ICD-10 preparation and implementation. According to the study, the hours are spread out over months or years (Bresnick, Health IT Analytics, 2/10).

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