While ICD-10 readiness has been hotly debated in healthcare informatics circles lately, there is one group that seems to be on track for the Oct. 1 compliance date: payers.
Specifically, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) surveyed the nation's largest private payers, including UnitedHealthcare (UHC), Aetna, BlueCross BlueShield (BCBS) and Humana, and asked if they would be ready for the ICD-10 Oct. 1 compliance date. All of the health plans said they would be ready by the deadline, although they did express concern that small private practices were not further along in their preparations. The payers are working with larger clients first, the AAFP's survey found and then will move onto to smaller physician practices.
"Payers want this transition to run smoothly, too. They've invested a lot of time and money into the ICD-10 implementation, just as family physicians have. The bottom line is that no business, big or small, involved in this effort can afford a slowdown in its billing and payment processes," Laura Schmidt, an AAFP private sector advocacy strategist, said on the AAFP website.
The various payers interviewed said they were developing testing programs for ICD-10 or are in the process of testing. They are also assisting physicians and other providers with the transition, as provider and vendor readiness were cited as two of the biggest concerns with ICD-10 by payers.
AAFP has been outspoken on Stage 2 of meaningful use, but has mostly kept quiet on ICD-10. It did, however, question whether or not the industry would be ready for the Oct. 1 compliance date in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Other advocacy groups representing providers have called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to delay the compliance date.