Rising IT budgets a boon to ICD-10

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

First, the good news: IT budgets are on the upswing. That's according to a leadership survey that HIMSS publicized this week in accordance with its annual conference.

The study found that nearly 75 percent of respondents expect their health IT operating expenditures to increase this year, and the chief priority, not surprisingly, is to qualify for meaningful use incentives.

More than one-third of participants in the HIMSS survey indicated that government mandates are going to have the most significant impact on healthcare in the next two years. “This year's response reflects compliance with new regulations regarding meaningful use, as well as coding upgrades and claim processes impacted by ICD-10 and HIPAA 5010,” HIMSS explained.

So even though ICD-10 and HIPAA 5010 are not the top priorities, healthcare IT professionals can expect to have more resources to allocate their way.

[Related: 5 lessons the U.S. can learn from other countries ICD-10 moves.]

And now for the less-than-good news: Neither HIPAA 5010 nor the subsequent ICD-10 are going to be easy, or inexpensive. Aetna, for instance, mentioned in a February earnings call that it plans on “committing to spend $30 million of cash in 2010 on ICD-10,” while calling the conversion a multi-year project, meaning that initial $30 million won't get them all the way to ICD-10 compliance.

Invoking the oft-cited Y2K comparison this week at the HIMSS10 show in Atlanta, Joseph Nichols MD, medical director of vendor Edifecs, explained that, because ICD codes are lurking in myriad clinical and financial systems, translating those codes to ICD-10 will be “a big issue.”

Nichols added, though, that ICD-10 will bring benefits, particularly in terms of accuracy and efficiency.