The ICD-10 Delay’s Effect on Medical Bill Collections

The decision in February to delay the deadline of ICD-10 coding for certain healthcare providers from October 1st, 2013 to an unspecified, undecided date has many providers, IT vendors and payers feeling like they’ve been left suspended in mid-air. The Department of Health and Human Services announced that they will extend the implementation timeline to aid providers struggling to meet the technology and administrative needs for compliance. However, many healthcare providers, members of the IT and medical bill collections industries see this delay as catastrophic for the implementation progress they’ve already made.

ICD-10 is the restructured reimbursement model for diagnosis and procedure codes. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) has been one of the loudest voices speaking out against HHS’ decision to delay ICD-10. “Providers have spent millions preparing for a deadline set over three years in advance,” said CHIME’s president and CEO in their letter to HHS. Healthcare providers are not the only ones affected by the delay; healthcare payers and healthcare accounts receivable services are also required to comply as well in order for ICD-10 to work properly.

The anticipated waste of valuable time and money providers put into collaborating with payers and medical bill collections to learn the new language and improve the flow of information is the main concern regarding the deadline delay. IT upgrade projects will have to be on hold and hours for extra manpower hired to help will need to be redistributed.

According to a recent Edifecs poll of more than 50 senior healthcare professionals, 76% of respondents believe that the improved ICD-10 data quality will create better health outcomes and should be utilized sooner, rather than later. Meanwhile, 85% feel that a delay of over a year will freeze budgets, stop implementation progress altogether and add up to unrecoverable costs; and 59% share the opinion that the new deadline date should be the same for providers and payers alike instead of having different dates for different entities. They feel that running ICD-9 and ICD-10 at the same time would incur even more unnecessary costs.

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