Impact Insights

Week in Review 9/25/15

THE TRANSITION TO ICD-10 IS THIS WEEK… After a number of delays, the conversion to ICD-10 code sets is finally set to take effect this Thursday, October 1st.  According to a recent article in Modern Healthcare, experts believe “most large hospitals and health systems and most large physician groups will weather the federally required conversion just fine, though they could experience temporary cash-flow squeezes because of ICD-10-related payment delays.”  However, smaller provider organizations – especially smaller physician practices – are more likely to run into problems.  In related news, CMS announced that the transition to ICD-10 would not be affected if the federal government shuts down this week.  (More information on that subject is also available in this article from Health Data Management.)

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts: There is a lot of very justified anxiety about the conversion to ICD-10, but we suspect that many organizations will also just be happy to have the deadline (and all the uncertainty) behind them.  For context, the driving force behind the transition (at least from the federal government’s perspective) is the fact that current ICD-9 code sets are extremely outdated.  For example, unlike in ICD-9, ICD-10 codes will allow providers distinguish between left side and right side, and between initial and subsequent encounters.

ONC’s FIVE-YEAR STRATEGIC IT PLAN… ONC recently released its Federal Health IT Strategic Plan for 2015-2020.  The plan – which received a fair amount of news coverage – outlines “how the federal government intends to apply the effective use of information and technology to help the nation achieve high-quality care, lower costs, a healthy population, and engaged individuals.”  There are four interdependent goals defined in the plan.  The plan notes that “government action will be the main driver for certain strategies, and for others, federal action will either supplement existing stakeholder work or encourage additional activities to begin.”

Impact Advisors’ Thoughts The plan is fine for what it is, but the item we think providers should really be keeping an eye on is the 21st Century Cures bill.  The version that was passed in the House in July 2015 included a number of interoperability provisions, and the Senate version – which is expected to be taken up later this fall or winter – could include additional IT-related language.  For more information on the House version of the bill, see our Week in Review blog from July 17, 2015.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT… Inexplicably, the Final Rule on changes to meaningful use requirements in 2015-2017 was not published last week.  Given that the 2015 MU reporting period for hospitals was originally scheduled to end on 9/30/15, the situation is becoming more of a mess with each passing day.  Even if the proposed timing changes are adopted as expected when the Final Rule is published, hospitals and EPs would still need to start their 90-day reporting period no later than October 3, 2015 in order to meet the revised meaningful use requirements for this year.