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MGMA Survey Finds Physician Groups Lagging Woefully on ICD-10 Transition Preparation

June 13, 2013
by Mark Hagland
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Physician leaders surveyed cite a lack of communication and critical coordination between medical groups and their business transaction partners

Research released on June 13 by the Englewood, Colo.-based Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) suggests that overall readiness of healthcare providers to meet the Oct. 1, 2014 compliance date for the transition from the ICD-9 coding system to the ICD-10 system continues to lag. The greatest concern, when it comes to physician groups, the research found, is the lack of communication and critical coordination between physician practices and their essential trading partners, including claims clearinghouses, electronic health record (EHR) vendors and practice management system vendors, regarding software updates and testing, which has not yet occurred. As MGMA found, only 4.8 percent of medical practices reported that they have made significant progress when rating their overall readiness for ICD-10 implementation, based on responses to a survey of 1,200 medical groups representing 55,000 practicing physicians.

Accompanying the release of the survey-based research results was a statement by Susan L. Turney, M.D., MGMA’s president and CEO. “The transition to ICD-10, with its substantial impact on documentation of clinical care, physician productivity and practice reimbursement, is unprecedented,” Dr. Turney said. “It is proving to be one of the most complex and expensive changes our healthcare system has faced in decades.” In her statement, Turney added that the fact that physician groups are having to manage several other sets of changes at once, including the meaningful use process under the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, and the state health insurance exchange provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), compounds the challenges of the ICD-10 transition for doctors.

Among the biggest obstacles faced by medical groups in making the transition to ICD-10, the MGMA research found, were the lack of response from vendors; lags in internal software testing; delays in external testing; low confidence in a successful transition; concern about changes to clinical documentation; absorbing the costs of the transition.

These research findings from MGMA regarding physician preparation for ICD-10 follow shortly on the heels of an analysis by the Chicago-based American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) of hospital organization preparation for ICD-10. The AHIMA analysis, released at the beginning of June, found that, as of fall 2012, more than 50 percent of hospitals remained in the beginning stages of moving forward on ICD-10 transition preparation.

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