Why you need to have a serious discussion with healthcare vendors now

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

This seems to be a good time to be worried. Your vendors may not be ready for the Oct. 1, 2014, ICD-10 deadline.

Last week I posted an article by Kerry Martin, CEO and founder of VitalWare, that shared results from a survey of healthcare vendors. Eighty vendors planned to release ICD-10 compliant products in 2014. Of those products, 35 percent are due in the fourth quarter.

Yeah, that's after the deadline.

So I followed up with Martin and asked what was up.

"Yeah, we were a little surprised by that," said Martin. "What they told us is 'Well the government moved the date once, and we're expecting they're going to do it again.' "

That means the healthcare providers relying on those vendors have two choices:

  1. Bet on another deadline extension.
  2. Put Plan B into place.

"These are product that actually get bills out the door," for small hospitals and large physician groups, says Martin. That Plan B isn't going to be easy. Healthcare providers can't just turn around and use a different billing system. "If they don't start today looking for a different system to do that, they're kind of stuck."

It's going to take a lot of work to replace them. Which would have to start now.

[See also: ICD-10 Impact Assessments: How ready are you to assess vendor readiness?]

The process starts with contacting healthcare vendors and asking some questions such as:

  • Will a mapping or crosswalk strategy be used between ICD-9 and ICD-10 code sets?
  • What is your timeline for system modifications and what do those modifications include? (Make sure testing is part of the timeline)
  • Will you continue to support applications or are you discontinuing some products in the wake of the ICD-10 transition?
  • Are there any new hardware requirements associated with ICD-10-related software changes?
  • What are the costs involved? Will modifications and upgrades be covered by existing contracts?
  • Will customer support and training be provided for any new ICD-10-related functionality, and is there a charge?
  • Is there a phased approach for implementing ICD-10?

Martin says the key is getting regular information - which VitalWare provides. With that information, CIOs can make better decisions about how to proceed with the ICD-10 transitions and if alternative plans need to be made.