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Most doctors not ready for ICD-10, SERMO poll says

A new poll by physician social network SERMO shows that most doctors say they are not ready for ICD-10, which goes into effect on Oct. 1, 2015.

With the long-awaited -- and much worried about -- arrival of new medical coding system ICD-10 looming, many physicians just aren't ready.

That's the stark reality reflected by a new poll from SERMO, the popular social network for doctors, and a survey by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI). 

Some 71% of the 1,670 docs who responded to the Aug. 3 SERMO poll said they weren't ready for ICD-10, which takes effect Oct. 1.

By comparison, only 29% said they were prepared.

Meanwhile, the WEDI survey indicated that nearly a quarter of physician practices won't be prepared for ICD-10 by Oct. 1. Another 25% of physicians are unsure they'll be ready by the ICD-10 deadline, the survey found.

The WEDI research contained more data that showed how much physicians are trailing other healthcare organizations in their ICD-10 preparations. Roughly 20% of physician practices said they already have or plan to undergo external ICD-10 testing, compared to 75% of health systems and hospitals.

Hospital staffs were more sanguine about ICD-10 than their physician practice counterparts, WEDI found. Almost 90% of hospitals said they're ready for ICD-10 now, or expect to be by the deadline.

'I am ignoring the entire thing'

As for SERMO members -- who are anonymous online, though their identities are verified by SERMO -- they had some choice words about the coding system. ICD-10 replaces ICD-9 with 141,000 codes -- more than eight times as many as ICD-9, which has 17,000 codes.

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"I just finished a required [by my hospital] ICD-10 online course," wrote one geriatric medicine specialist who responded to the poll. "I'm more confused now than before I started. But, I will tell you one thing for sure: I'm definitely going to develop my copy and paste skills."

In a blunter assessment, a psychiatrist responded:  "I am ignoring the entire thing. I do not bill or correspond with third-party payers, and that removes the administrative pressure."

"Try it, you'll like it," the psychiatrist added. "Besides, my time is better spent seeing patients."

Some ICD-10 hiring on the rise, poll says

Another question, which drew 487 responses from SERMO's approximately 400,000 members, asked whether physicians had hired or plan to hire more staff to implement ICD-10.

Of those respondents, 83% said no, while 17% said yes.

Based on this poll, the majority of the physician community is not ready for ICD-10.
Randi KahnSERMO spokeswoman

"Based on this poll, the majority of the physician community is not ready for ICD-10," said SERMO spokeswoman Randi Kahn.

SERMO publishes about two polls each week, with some contributed by media organizations and a few sponsored by pharmaceutical companies and other businesses. Most questions are generated by SERMO staff.

Of the 621 WEDI survey respondents, 96 were health plans. This group's self-assessed ICD-10 readiness also surpassed that of physicians. Only 40% of health plans stated they were ready at the time they answered the survey, while the remaining 60% believed they'd be in compliance by the ICD-10 deadline.

Meanwhile, WEDI asked the government and other influential healthcare parties to keep watch on the ICD-10 switchover. "We are hopeful that industry leaders take the necessary steps to help ensure that the transition to ICD-10 is completed with minimal disruption to the healthcare industry," said Jean P. Narcisi, chair of WEDI, in a release.   

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writeror contact @SSutner on Twitter.

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