Fotolia_57336516_XSOn August 29, 2014, it was announced by the centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that there would be three weeks of end to end testing for ICD-10 that would allow providers the chance to make sure their systems are able to accept ICD-10 claims. Those testing weeks will be November 17-21, March 2-6, and June 1-5.

Submitters are able to acknowledgement test ICD-10 claims at any time, but the testing weeks have been created to generate interest and awareness, as well as ensure providers are confident in the implementation of iCD-10. This will also help providers become more prepared so they can begin using ICD-10 as seamlessly as possible when it goes into effect October 1, 2015.

During the testing weeks, providers will be given access to MACs and they will be able to receive real-time help during the test. This is a testing event that will be conducted virtually and the CMS website will contain all of the necessary information on the tests. CMS announced the final rule that established October 1, 2015 as the compliance date early in August. This means that the use of ICD-9 will continue through until September 30, 2015.

Initially, the date that ICD-10 was to go into effect was October 1, 2014, but many providers were not ready. This one year delay is said to have caused a financial impact to healthcare organization. The impact is said to have been somewhere between $422 million for small providers to $3.8 billion for the large providers.

ICD Implementation Urgency

The ICD-10 testing is expected to make transitioning much easier when the day comes, but the announcement of the compliance date is still not raising a lot of urgency. It has been observed by CMS that practices are not rushing to get ready, especially with the first ICD-10 testing week coming in November.

It has been said that the “fits and starts” regarding the compliance date have made matters difficult for physicians. That has made it difficult for practices to make their move. Fortunately, there are medical consulting firms that can help physicians move their offices forward toward compliance.

Physicians have been pushing back on the efforts of their practices to get ready. Some have asked why they should get ready when the date has been moved back every year. The truth is that ICD-10 is coming and that makes ICD-10 training very important. The medical diagnostic codes are more comprehensive, so it is never too soon to be in compliance.

While no formal surveys have been taken, physicians have been expressing their concerns with the transition. What has been heard is that when the latest delay was announced, many slowed down their implementation efforts. Those that were already ICD-10 ready ended up reducing or stopping their communication with providers. Prior to the delay, the vendors had been aggressively encouraging providers to upgrade to the newest version. Now that there is a final date, it is very important to re-engage so that compliance is had by the deadline.

The Four-Pronged Approach

In July 2014, CMS announced their four-pronged approach to helping physicians get ready for ICD-10. The first is the CMS internal testing of the claims processing system. This has already been done and, as of October 1, 2013, the processing systems were ready. Provider initiated beta testing tools have also been provided.

Through acknowledgement testing, providers, billing companies, suppliers, and clearinghouses are able to submit acknowledgement test claims and they can do this until October 1, 2015. The testing will be highlighted during the three testing weeks while the end-to-end testing is happening, which is the fourth prong to implementing ICD-10.

For those that are unsure on how to proceed, they are encouraged to consider in-house testing of their own. Medical consultants can help with this, making the task much easier. Through consulting, it can be ensured that documentation is sufficient and that the claims process is carried out correctly. It is important that ICD-10 training is thorough so that mistakes can be reduced. A reduction in mistakes is one of the highlights of ICD-10. By practicing, the claims process can be made much easier right out of the gate so that providers are efficient from the very beginning.

 

If you need to move forward with ICD-10 implementation, MD Pro Solutions can help. To learn more about what we can do to make transitioning to ICD-10 easier for you, call us at 508-946-1665 for a free consultation or complete our contact form and someone from our office will contact you.