The Smart Medical Practice

ICD-10 Was Delayed, But Meaningful Use Was Not


Meaningful UseMany physicians are breathing a sign of relief over the ICD-10 implementation delay. But some may have taken that breath too quickly—there’s still an important deadline to contend with this fall.

Physicians looking to attain Stage 1 of Meaningful Use must have a 2014-certified EHR and must report for 90 days before October 1, 2014. Those who miss the deadline will see a 1% cut in their Medicare reimbursements in 2015. Physicians who attested to Stage 1 already but don’t attest in 2014 will lose 1% of Medicare reimbursement in 2016.

Some practices are dealing with issues related to upgrading their existing EHR to a certified one. Small practices are the most vulnerable, according to IT consultant Mark Anderson, who notes that many of the major EHR vendors are certifying only one or two of their ambulatory EHRs—usually the ones oriented toward medium-sized and large practices.

Further complicating matters, says Anderson, is the fact that some of the major vendors are backed up on upgrades and many smaller EHR vendors are struggling to keep up with government requirements.

One way around the difficulties faced by small practices is a cloud-based solution, says IT consultant Rosemarie Nelson. New cloud-based products like AthenaHealth and PracticeSuite are not only 2014-certified and quick to install, they also bring practices into compliance with 32 of the 49 HIPAA requirements.

Once the Meaningful Use deadline is out of the way in October, experts like Robert Tennant of the Medical Group Management Association recommend continuing with ICD-10 preparation. Consultants who spoke to FierceHealthCare.com recommend taking advantage of the extended deadline to

  • Continue testing new systems
  • Extend and improve employee training
  • Maintain momentum by focusing on aspects of the transition that can be completed now

For example, Mike Smith of Lee Memorial Health System says his organization is continuing to dual code but at a less intense pace. We will do dual coding, but on a fewer number of charts, he says. On the training side, providers can have coders practice working with ICD-10 for a few encounters each week. They can also work to improve documentation.

Finally, John Dugan of PriceWaterhouseCooper’s Health Industries practice says the delay gives providers an opportunity to link ICD-10 to investments in electronic health systems and meeting Meaningful Use requirements.

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