Strategies for Offsetting Costs of
ICD-10 Implementation

There’s good news and bad news for physicians and radiologists concerned about the costs of ICD-10 implementation, but we’ll start with the good news. According to a recent survey conducted by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management, the cost of implementing ICD 10 for small practices could actually be much lower than originally anticipated.
That’s right. Even after reports last year that costs would be higher than estimated in 2008, new findings indicate that practices with no more than six providers will spend an average of $3,430 on the ICD-10 mandate, according to the Journal of AHIMA.

So why are the costs lower?

In a November 2014 Journal of AHIMA article titled, “Cost of Converting Small Physician Offices to ICD-10 Much Lower Than Previously Reported,” Kravis, Belley, et al (2014) mention that the original estimations of $22,560 to $105,506 per practice included costs that aren’t actually related to ICD-10 implementation, such as converting to EHR. They go on to cite the unanticipated affordability of coding training for physicians, as well as the relatively low cost of ICD-10 training for staff.
The November 2014 Journal of AHIMA article also includes a table that breaks down the costs of ICD-10 implementation for a small practice. The estimated implementation cost of $1,960-$5,900 includes expenditures on code books, as well as the cost of staff and physician training. It’s worth noting that software upgrades are not factored into that cost, since it is assumed that practices will already have the necessary software, and only require a free upgrade to ICD-10 coding.

The bad news here is that the mandatory ICD-10 implementation still comes at a substantial cost to both physicians and radiologists. However, there are a few effective strategies you can employ to help offset those costs and get your practice in the black and up to speed with federal compliance.

#1: Sell your liens.

One of the best ways to offset the costs of ICD-10 implementation is by selling your receivables, especially if you work on a lien basis. By working with a medical lien finance company, you can improve cash flow at your practice and stay current on your books.

However, it’s important to remember that not all medical lien finance companies are the same. You’ll want to work with an experienced company that offers more than simply lien servicing and purchasing, such as MedChex. As an affiliate of Global Financial, one of the nation’s leading financiers for attorneys, MedChex is well backed and has the resources and expertise to offer you top dollar for your receivables.

Another great thing about MedChex is that they’ll also connect you to their extensive nationwide network of healthcare providers and patients, so that you can expand your client base and develop a provider referral network. But unlike many other medical lien finance companies, MedChex charges no application fees, and has the flexibility to wait for PI cases to settle.

#3: Look to your vendors.

If you already use software to maintain EHR’s, the good news is that the upgrade to ICD-10 coding is typically part of a free annual upgrade provided by your software vendor. Additionally, many EHR vendors and clearinghouses will provide staff training for ICD-10 free of charge.

#2: Get up to speed with training and upgrade ASAP.

Since ICD-10 diagnosis codes are much more specific and numerous than ICD-9 (an increase from 14,000 codes to nearly 70,000), upgrading as soon as possible to ICD-10 can help you receive more on your claims than ever before. A 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that doctors nationwide missed out on $1.8 billion in Medicare reimbursement because they improperly documented their services. The message here: get up to speed on coding, and maximize your billing.

#4: Look into government incentives.

Government-backed incentives for implementation of EHR technology can also substantially offset ICD-10 conversion costs, offering maximum incentives of $44,000 and $63,750 for Medicare and Medicaid, respectively.(Stay tuned, more on EHR Medical Incentives to come)

Remember, the deadline for ICD-10 compliance is October 1st, 2015.

Sources
Kravis, T., Belley, S., Smith, D., & Averill, R. (2014). Cost of Converting Small Physician Offices to ICD-10 Much Lower than Previously Reported. Journal of AHIMA. Retrieved March 31, 2015. http://journal.ahima.org/wp-content/uploads/Week-3_PDFpost.FINAL-Estimating-the-Cost-of-Conversion-to-ICD-10_-Nov-12.pdf

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