- The AMA is challenging the results of a new study whose estimates of the cost of the ICD-10 switchover are dramatically lower than its own.
- The physician group, working with researchers Nachimson Advisors, had projected that the switch would cost small practices $22,560 to $105,506 to make the transition. A new study by 3M Health Information Systems, meanwhile, has predicted that implementing ICD-10 would cost between $1,960 and $5,900.
- The AMA says the 3M estimates are flawed, as they don't include the cost of several implementation steps, including training, assessment and planning, engaging vendors, internal and external testing and process updates.
When it comes to dualing projections like these, it's difficult to pick a "winner," but it is possible to look at some of the way the estimates differ. Generally speaking, the lower estimate assumes that some key expenses shouldn't be lumped in directly with the transition, while the higher is based on the assumption that many administrative costs belong in the ICD-10 bucket.
Specifically, the lower 3M Health Information Systems projection assumes that costs related to EMR adoption and other healthcare initiatives aren't directly related to ICD-10, that coders are far better prepared for the switch than they had been previously and that clinician documentation and coding training tools are cheaper than they were before. The AMA and Nachimson Advisors, meanwhile, see ICD-10 as imposing a long list of new costs for training and administration.
Both parties, however, have an incentive to produce the numbers they did. As a health IT vendor, 3M wants to suggest that it can be very affordable to transition, presumably if you work with them. The AMA, for its part, has a stake in portraying ICD-10 as an unfair burden on its members. We'll just have to see whose estimates are closer to the truth over time.