- The cost of transitioning to the ICD-10 data set has always been estimated to be a huge expense for small physician practices. But according to a new article in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), this might not be the case.
- The article, written by a physician manager and health information systems project managers for 3M Health Information Systems, puts the cost for small practices (defined as three physicians plus two other associated staffers, like coders) at $1,960 to $5,900.
- Those numbers are a far cry from the estimates used by the American Medical Association, which puts costs between $22,560 and $105,506. According to the authors, the discrepancy is a result of other costs being built into the estimates—specifically, the cost of electronic health record implementation.
"With all the discussion of costs of ICD-10 implementation, it is easy to forget the reasons ICD-10 is critically needed," according to the authors. "It is also important to recognize that there was significant medical society input into the development of ICD-10 so that the additional specificity … reflects the detail requested by the physicians."
Of course, despite the—optimism?—of these new estimates, providers still anticipate that the transition is going to make their lives harder, not easier. According to a survey published by AHIMA earlier this month, 61% of providers think that documenting patient encounters will be more difficult under ICD-10. 54% think that the new code set will making adjudicating reimbursement claims harder as well. Not to mention that while these numbers may appear a lot lower on paper, hospitals still need the IT infrastructure to make use of it, so the higher estimates may reflect the practical impact of the transition.