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AHIMA: Hospitals Lag on ICD-10 Readiness

June 3, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Most of the nation’s 4,000-plus hospitals have only just begun ICD-10 implementation efforts, according to analysis by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), which was published in the June edition of the Journal of AHIMA.

That concerning conclusion was also reached this past fall, when Springfield, Mo.-based consulting vendor TrustHCS and AHIMA conducted a comprehensive survey of ICD-10 readiness through a professional survey firm, who interviewed more than 300 health information management (HIM) professionals representing 293 healthcare facilities that included academic medical centers, teaching and non-teaching community hospitals, and critical access hospitals. Eighty-four percent of the survey participants were HIM directors.

According to the survey, more than 50 percent were still in the beginning phases of ICD-10 migration in fall of 2012. A total of 25 percent had not even formed an ICD-10 steering committee, one of the first steps of implementation. Project plans were underway for only 17 percent of facilities, leaving the vast majority of providers with no plans, no budgets, and very little progress to report.

The exception to this procrastination was teaching community hospitals and academic medical centers, where 30 percent of HIM respondents in those types of facilities said they regularly meet with steering committees and have their ICD-10 transition projects underway. Critical access hospitals were identified as the slowest participants in the ICD-10 race, likely due to their exemption from DRG-based reimbursement.

While 72 percent of hospitals surveyed have already begun ICD-10 education, of the hospitals without an ICD-10 steering committee, nearly half have not started education initiatives. Budgets for ICD-10 training are higher within groups who have already established committees and have transition projects underway. The researchers behind the study believe this finding indicates that deeper and more extensive ICD-10 education is certainly required by many providers. AHIMA and the federal government predicted 50 hours of ICD-10 training would be needed for each full time coder to successfully transition to ICD-10.

“The move to ICD-10 is a long assembly line requiring a monumental amount of teamwork and coordination,” said the authors of the AHIMA analysis, Torrey Barnhouse and William Rudman, Ph.D., RHIA. “More than ever, communication and planning are the key factors to a successful transition. And once organizational buy-in is achieved, rapid action with quarterly auditing of progress is a must.”

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