After being delayed a year, it looks like ICD-10 is on target to make its October 2014 deadline. This will have a major impact on physician medical billing nationwide.
Farzad Mostashari, MD, the national coordinator for healthcare IT, stated at a HIMSS Media ICD-10 forum in June that there would be no extension to the deadline for switching from ICD-9 to ICD-10. The deadline for conversion will remain Oct. 1, 2014.
The current delay was was granted partly because of the need for a crosswalk to be created between SNOMED and ICD-10. This was to ease the transition from ICD-9.
Concerns about impact to physician medical billing
Many physicians and physician advocate organizations had hoped for another extension due to the impact this will likely have on small to mid-sized practices. These practices usually don’t have the resources to adequately train their billing staff for the major changes that the new coding system will be for physician medical billing. Because of that, many physicians are left wondering just how they will prepare and be ready for the coming changes. CMS offers online courses and other resources to help practices prepare. But ultimately, billing staff will need training to be ready for the coming changes.
Another resource is the software vendors that the practices are using. It is imperative that practices ensure that their current software is indeed ICD-10 compliant and ready to go. Most, if not all, vendors should be ready for this.
To be ready for the October 2014 deadline, practices should begin now in first, making sure their software is up to date and is able to support ICD-10. Then practices should begin looking for local training options to send their billing staff to so that they can begin to understand what is involved and how ICD-10 will effect physician medical billing.
Another option is to look at outsourced billing services.
Regardless of the direction a practice chooses to move in, it is imperative that they begin to move now so that they can be ready when October 2014 rolls around.