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Finances, not codes, worry Texas physicians as they jump from ICD-9 to ICD-10

The increase in the amount codes is an often-discussed topic when healthcare professionals weigh in on the move from ICD-9 to ICD-10, but a new survey found that 30% of Texas physicians said they would retire prematurely if ICD-10 presents them with financial problems. That statistic reinforces that practices have the bottom lines on their minds as they prepare to implement ICD-10.

The Texas Medical Association polled state physicians to see where they stood in their ICD-10 preparations and found 83% of respondents — a group that included group practice owners, practice employees, hospital employees and solo physicians — expect to encounter denied or delayed medical claims during the ICD-10 transition.

That answer makes it clear that healthcare professionals are aware the passage from ICD-9 to ICD-10 will affect their practices’ finances. So what are they doing to prepare? Not much, according to one of the questions, which found that less than a third of physicians have done financial planning to brace for possible delayed or rejected ICD-10 claims.

Faulty claims could contribute to revenue cycle problems during the early stages of ICD-10 implementation, a problem for which most respondents don’t expect to seek governmental or outside aid. More than a third said they would use personal funds to support their practice if faced with cash flow problems as a result of ICD-10. Only 29% said they will seek commercial loans for their practice in that scenario.

Nearly a third (32%) are prepared to fire employees, cut their hours or reduce their benefits to free up some currency to properly transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, while 17% would sell their practice instead of wrestling with ICD-10 budget issues.

The survey report separated some answers by age groups and the results showed that older healthcare professionals are more likely to leave their practice than their younger peers. More than 70% of respondents who said they’d retire early because of ICD-10-related financial troubles were aged 51 years or older. On the other hand, nearly half of those aged 50 and younger said they plan to renegotiate or end their plan contracts in the same situation.

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