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Article reports reduction to estimated cost of ICD-10 conversion

Providers that point to the potential financial burden the impending ICD-10 conversion could have on their practice as a reason to delay making the transition from ICD-9 codes might not have as strong of an argument as previously believed.

Changing over from ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes isn’t as costly as previous estimates suggested, according to an article published in the Journal of AHIMA, entitled “Cost of Converting Small Physician Offices to ICD-10 Much Lower than Previously Reported.” A 2008 report by Nachimson Advisors to the American Medical Association tagged the ICD-10 conversion price range between $22,560 and $105,506 for small providers. An update to that report lowered the range for small providers to $1,960 to $5,900. The new figure includes pricing estimates for clinical documentation and coding training and factors in the cost of purchasing ICD-10 code books.

The difference between the estimation in the 2008 report and the more recent assessment can be attributed to the greater availability and lower costs of the component parts of ICD-10, such as staff training and materials. The Journal of AHIMA article notes three hours of online clinician documentation and coding training can be bought for $50 to $300 and ICD-10 Diagnoses Code book is available for free download. More complete ICD-10 training for staff falls in the $350 to $700 range.

The article states, “The new data suggests that the estimated costs, time and resources required by physician offices are dramatically lower than initially estimated as a result of readily available free and low cost solutions offered by coding, education and software vendors.”

A recent ICD-10 readiness survey conducted by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) prompted the group to submit a letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell. In the letter, WEDI shared more than one-quarter of the surveyed health plans don’t plan to begin external ICD-10 testing until 2015. Despite reporting almost three-quarters of providers have started internal testing, WEDI foresees “significant disruption on Oct 1, 2015.” unless the entire industry coordinates and expedites the ICD-10 conversion process.

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