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Study: ICD-10 Costs for Small Practices Less Than Previously Estimated

February 12, 2015
by Rajiv Leventhal
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ICD-10 expenditures for small physician practices will not be as high as previously estimated, according to research from the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, published recently in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association.

Researchers polled 276 physician practices with fewer than six providers, with results finding that the practices spent an average of $8,167 on ICD-10 implementation, while individual providers spent an average of $3,430. According to the researchers in this study, there are now three studies documenting that ICD-10 implementation costs in small physician practices are dramatically lower than originally reported in the widely publicized American Medical Association (AMA)-funded study, which estimated the cost for a small practice to implement ICD-10 was in the range of $22,560-$105,506.

Survey respondents were asked to specify the number of providers in the practice where a provider was defined as a direct caregiver, such as physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners. Respondents were asked to specify the total expenditures in the practice for all ICD-10-related activities, including costs already incurred and costs remaining to be expended. The instructions associated with the question on expenditures specifically noted that the costs of obtaining ICD-10 manuals and documentation, ICD-10 training costs, the cost of superbill conversion to ICD-10, and software system upgrades and testing should all be included as ICD-10-related expenditures.

As expected, the expenditures associated with ICD-10 increase as the size of the practice increases, but the per-provider expenditures decrease as the size of the practice increases. The per-provider ICD-10 average expenditures ranged from $4,372 for a practice with a single provider to $1,838 for practice with six providers, the study found. What’s more, on average, the combined amount of ICD-10-related hours expended across all personnel types in practices with six or fewer providers was 45.5 hours per provider in the practice. “Based on this survey and the two other recent studies, the financial barriers to ICD-10 are significantly less than originally projected,” the researchers concluded.

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