One of the leading concerns about the scheduled change to ICD-10 coding later this year is the potentially high price tag.
The American Medical Association (AMA) last year published an updated study estimating that small practices could spend between $56,639 and $226,105 on transitioning to ICD-10 while medium and large practices would see much larger costs.
But a new survey by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management shows the actual numbers may be much lower, at least for small practices.
Published this week in the Journal of AHIMA (American Health Information Management Association), the survey asked 276 medical practices with six or fewer physicians to total the cost of all activities connected to ICD-10, including what they’ve already spent and what they plan to spend in the future.
For these small practices, the average ICD-10 expenditure totaled $8,167 per practice and $3,430 per provider.
Solo physicians reported an average expenditure of $4,372. The largest practice expenditure belonged to four-provider practices, which reported an average of $13,541. Five-provider practices reported an average of $11,960, while six-provider practices reported an average of $11,028. For the most part, the average expenditure per provider declined as the practice grew larger and the cost could be spread among more people.
The survey also found that practices spent an average of 45.5 hours per provider on tasks related to ICD-10.
Researchers noted that their financial results differed significantly from the AMA’s study, which listed a range of $25,560 to $105,506 in pre-compliance implementation costs and another $31,079 to $120,599 in productivity losses and potential payment disruption. Addressing the pre-compliance costs, researchers said some of the cost difference reflected the availability of more low-priced training, vendors offering ICD-10 system updates for free, and more practices adopting electronic health records. In any event, the information shows that the switch to ICD-10, while still a drain on time and resources, doesn't necessarily equal a crippling financial burden.
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