HealthDay News — Most practices are not ready to meet the October 1, 2013 deadline for compliance with International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), according to a report published by the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA).

Only 4.8% of practices surveyed reported they had made significant progress toward overall readiness for ICD-10 implementation, findings revealed, and 55.4% reported they had not yet started on the process. The survey involved about 55,000 physicians from 1,200 practices.

The new ICD-10 diagnosis code set — developed by WHO to identify patients’ diseases, signs, symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints and causes of injury — will contain more than five times the number of codes as the current ICD-9 system and is expected to require extensive changes for medical groups. 

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Susan L. Turney, MD, MS, FACMPE, FACP, MGMA president and CEO, called the transition to ICD-10 “substantial and “unprecedented,” in terms of the impact it will have on clinical care, clinician productivity and practice reimbursement.

“A successful transition to ICD-10 requires coordination between providers and their vendor, clearinghouse and health plan trading partners. Our data suggest that many practices are in the dark in terms of moving forward with ICD-10 as this coordination has not yet occurred,” Turney said in a press release.

More than 70% of practices surveyed reported that they had not heard from the major health plans regarding the ability to test claims, and 59.7% reported the same of claims clearinghouses.

Overall costs (81.1%), changes to clinical documentation (88%), and loss of clinician and coding staff productivity (87.5%) after implementation were among top clinician concerns. Expected difficulties included ability to document patient encounters and ability to select the appropriate diagnosis code.

Just 32.% of respondents reported their cost to upgrade or replace their practice management system software will be covered by their vendor. Only 37% said their vendor will cover the cost to upgrade/replace their EHR.

For organizations that must cover the costs themselves, the average cost for a 10-physician practice to upgrade or replace their practice management system and EHR software to accommodate ICD-10 is $201,690.

“Without the necessary software changes and testing, practices will have no confidence that they will be paid for the care they deliver to their patients after Oct. 1, 2014,” Turney said.

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