(Editor's Note: This article was updated on Sept. 22 to reflect that the readiness testing referenced here should not be confused with end-to-end testing scheduled to commence in 2015.)
CMS recently announced(www.cms.gov) that in coming months, it will offer three separate weeks of acknowledgement testing in preparation for the nation's implementation of the ICD-10 code set for outpatient diagnostic coding.
The testing weeks CMS has scheduled are
• Nov. 17-21, 2014,
• March 2-6, 2015, and
• June 1-5, 2015.
In July, CMS confirmed the Oct. 1, 2015, compliance date for implementation of the new coding system, an overhaul that stands to increase the number of diagnosis codes available to physicians from about 13,000 to more than 68,000.
According to information provided by the agency, the testing weeks were created to "generate awareness and interest and to instill confidence in the provider community that CMS and MACs (Medicare administrative contractors) are ready and prepared for the ICD-10 implementation."
According to a July 31 article(www.cms.gov) in the Medicare Learning Network's MLN Matters, some 2,500 volunteers will submit test claims using ICD-10 codes over the course of the three testing weeks.
- CMS has announced dates for three separate weeks of acknowledgement testing to prepare for implementation of the ICD-10 code set for outpatient diagnostic coding.
- Testing will take place Nov. 17-21 of this year and March 2-6 and June 1-5, 2015.
- Some 2,500 volunteers will submit test claims using ICD-codes; the goal is to ensure system integrity and increase physicians' confidence in the new coding system.
The testing weeks will allow physicians and other trading partners access to entities at CMS charged with conducting the testing. The electronic data interchange support desk will be available, at a minimum, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. local contractor time, with additional staff on hand to handle an anticipated increase in call volume during those weeks.
Physicians should contact their individual MACs with questions about participation; toll-free numbers(www.cms.gov) for MACs are available online.
The announcement comes as welcome news, given that the AAFP urged CMS to begin testing months ago when the Academy was asking for a delay in the ICD-10 implementation date.
In fact, in a Feb. 25 letter to (then) HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, AAFP Board Chair Jeff Cain, M.D., of Denver, specifically asked CMS to provide end-to-end readiness testing that would highlight system flaws prior to implementation and increase physicians' level of confidence in the new code system.
Ultimately, CMS did delay ICD-10 compliance one year -- from Oct. 1, 2014 to Oct. 1, 2015. However, despite the extra time, physicians should remain diligent and continue their ICD-10 preparations, said Kent Moore, the AAFP's senior strategist for physician payment.
"Family physicians must be ready to make the ICD-10 transition on Oct. 1, 2015, if they want to receive payment from Medicare and other payers for services provided," said Moore. "Those practices not ready to do business with the new code sets will experience a significant negative impact on their cash flow cycles," he added.
Related AAFP News Coverage
AAFP Raises Serious Concerns About ICD-10 Testing, Readiness
More From AAFP
FAQ on ICD-10
CMS ICD-10 Resources(www.cms.gov)