June 15 is a red-letter day for all physician practices. CMS has designated June 15 as a national testing day for the 5010 transaction standards(www.cms.gov) mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. These standards, which are the next step in the evolution of HIPAA standards for covered transactions, will affect family physicians and all other entities that electronically transmit health information, including claims submissions and patient eligibility inquiries.
According to a testing day message(www.cms.gov) recently posted by CMS, the test day will give physicians, clearinghouses, vendors and Medicare contractors an opportunity to identify and correct any problems they have sending or receiving 5010 transactions before the Jan. 1, 2012, compliance deadline.
According to CMS, physicians who are not prepared for the changes in HIPAA standards on Jan. 1 "could be at risk for cash flow interruptions." On testing day, physicians will have real-time help desk support, as well as immediate access to Medicare contractors.
Cynthia Hughes, C.P.C., an AAFP coding and compliance specialist, urged AAFP members to take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the practice run. "Testing makes sure that everything is going through in the right format and working correctly," said Hughes.
Plus, there's an added bonus for early birds. "Once physicians have tested and been approved, they can begin billing in the 5010 format and won't have to worry about it come January because their systems already are compliant," said Hughes.
If a practice's software vendor or clearinghouse has not prepared the practice for the June 15 testing day, another national test day will be available in August, said Hughes.