Healthcare Providers, Are Your Software Vendors ICD-10 Ready?

Spend Matters welcomes another guest post from Jeff Muscarella of NPI, a spend management consultancy focused on eliminating overspending on IT, telecom, and shipping.

With the deadline for the implementation of the new ICD-10 coding system extended to October 1, 2015, some IT sourcing professionals in the healthcare industry may be breathing a sigh of relief.

From the beginning, ICD-10 has represented a mammoth undertaking. Compared to ICD-9, the new code set exhibits much greater specificity (there are five times the number of codes) that will affect everything from documentation and patient reporting to staff and physician training, as well as changes in reimbursement patterns. The cost impact of these changes are estimated to be in the $50,000 to $250,000 range for small healthcare practices, with medium and large practices expected to pay anywhere between $200,000 to $8 million.

Since the original deadline (October 2013), much debate has been given to the question of whether healthcare organizations will be ready, and the stresses have found their way to IT sourcing. However, this discussion has only addressed half of the ICD-10 readiness issue. Vendor readiness has been – and remains – a serious concern.

At the end of 2013, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) surveyed healthcare IT vendors and found that 20 percent indicated that their ICD-10 compliant products wouldn’t even be ready for beta testing until 2014. Ten percent didn’t know when they would have their products ready. Many vendors have pointed the finger back at their healthcare provider customers, claiming the lack of provider readiness as a serious obstacle in developing, testing, and refining ICD-10 products. Critics of the most recent deadline delay argue that the extensions perpetuate this vicious cycle of vendor un-readiness.

Fast forward to mid-2014, and healthcare IT sourcing professionals are realizing that vendor readiness for ICD-10 has added another layer of complexity to the purchasing process.

Even now, healthcare CIOs cannot assume their current and prospective software vendors are ICD-10 ready, and should ask the following questions:

  • Is the product compliant with ICD-10 requirements? If not, will it ever be compliant?
  • When will beta testing begin? When will it end?
  • What interoperability testing is required, and what is the status of that testing?
  • When will the vendor start and complete ICD-10 testing within the client organization?
  • Which product version of the software will be ICD-10 compliant?
  • Will it require any upgrades to the supporting hardware/software environment?
  • What is the planned release date?
  • How will customer training be handled?
  • What is the vendor's strategy for blending or working with ICD-9 and ICD-10 records data when it comes to clinical treatment or financial reimbursement?
  • What are the SLA’s terms for responding to user issues when ICD-10 goes live?
  • What are the incremental costs of upgrades and training (if any)?

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