The news about ICD-10 continues to divide providers, one way or another, based on whom is asked and as my friends at NueMD have found, many are still unprepared and most don’t want want it to move forward. These are the primary findings of the recently conducted a third installment of the firm’s survey, “Attitudes toward ICD-10” that was designed to measure how healthcare professionals feel about the upcoming transition. In all, of the 1,000 respondents — primarily from small and medium-sized medical practices — the majority said they think there should be no transition to ICD-10.
The following graphics help explain the sentiment toward the new coding standard for clarification:
According to the results of the survey, NueMD’s data suggest that making the switch to ICD-10 will greatly improve provider’s ability to understand medicine, but can “also introduce some serious struggles for practices while they try to maintain cash flow through the transition.”
Moving on to expectations, according to the survey, the majority of respondents said they are either highly or significantly concerned about the transition to ICD-10. The greatest concern remains for the training and education pf staff during the transition, for obvious reasons. However, payer testing and software upgrade costs are not far behind.
Respondents were most concerned about claims processing, with 65 percent saying they are either “highly” or “significantly” concerned with the transition.
NueMD, provider of cloud-based medical practice management software for small practices, in partnership with Porter Research and the Daniel Brown Law Group, surveyed practices and business associates about HIPAA compliance and how small practices and billing companies are coping. The survey of about 1,200 healthcare professionals, conducted during October 2014, found medical practices and billing companies are struggling to comply with regulations under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
“Understanding HIPAA can be difficult for practices and billing companies, especially if they’re already scrambling to keep up with changes like ICD-10 and meaningful use,” said Caleb Clarke, sales and marketing director at NueMD, in a statement. “With audits looming, we wanted to get a sense of where the industry stands and provide resources to help those who may be struggling.”
NueMD surveyed practices and billing companies in all 50 states; most of the practices were small and made up of one to three providers.
In a nutshell, the survey found that:
- 66 percent of respondents were unaware of HIPAA audits (a staggering number)
- 35 percent of respondents said their business has conducted a HIPAA-required risk analysis
- 34 percent of owners, managers and practice administrators reported that they were “very confident” that their electronic devices that contain PHI were HIPAA compliant
- 24 percent of managers, owners and practice administrators at medical practices reported that they’ve evaluated all of their business associate agreements
- 56 percent of office staff and (non-owner) care providers at practices said they’ve received HIPAA training in the last year
HIPAA is one of the primary and most comprehensive government regulations that affect the daily activities of each healthcare organization every day.
Signed into law in 1996, the law outlines policies to protect sensitive patient data and penalties for those who don’t comply. Recent updates under the HITECH act introduced several changes that affect the responsibilities and liabilities of covered entities and business associates.
Enforcement of breaches is occurring at a more rapid pace. HITECH extended certain HIPAA security and privacy requirements and set the stage for greater enforcement, including:
- Widening the scope of the law, requiring health information exchanges to be business associates of healthcare entities, and applied HIPAA privacy and security requirements directly to the HIEs.
- Greater penalties for noncompliance.
- Redirecting civil monetary penalties back into enforcement activities instead of into the general fund. This provides additional funds for future enforcement and incentivizes proactive enforcement activities.
- Adding breach notification requirements to entities that operate personal health records or otherwise maintain personal health information for purposes other than healthcare delivery or payment.
- Opening the way for enforcement by states’ attorneys general.
Also, the HITECH Act incentivizes a more aggressive pursuit of HIPAA, which means it’s more likely that healthcare organizations will now be audited more regularly.
NueMD is conducting a survey of medical practices, billing companies, and business associates about HIPAA compliance.
In anticipation of the upcoming audits by the Office of Civil Rights, researchers at NueMD have teamed up with The Daniel Brown Law Group and Porter Research to conduct a survey that will help small practices prepare for an audit.
The survey will gauge respondents’ knowledge of HIPAA’s Privacy and Security regulations, understanding of compliance measures, and how electronic devices are used for communication.
Participation is strongly encouraged for care providers, office managers, and office staff of medical practices, as well as those who work for business associates (medical billing companies, software companies, etc) of covered entities.
Please click here to take the survey.
What follows is a fascinating graphic from NueMD, which asks a simple, yet provocative question: Is meaningful use helping or hurting EHR adoption?
CMS launched the program to “reward healthcare practitioners for adopting electronic health records and increasing efficiency within their practice.” According to the graphic, and the research complied here, 2013 was a successful year by all accounts as far as EHR adoption is concerned. However, as pointed out by NueMD, attestation of meaningful use is slowing.
Particularly alarming are the figures from the small practice space, with 50 percent or so of these physicians groups implementing the technology, yet only 25 percent or so of this group attesting and receiving incentives for doing so.
Additionally, satisfaction with using EHR technology also has dramatically decreased for those who might be called technology champions while those who might be labeled as EHR “haters” have begun to hate the technology even more.
Finally, of those deciding to make the technology switch to a new system cite lack of system functionality as the primary reason for doing so. So, of the physicians that are not implementing the systems, are they simply deciding to absorb the financial penalties mandated by the feds? If that’s the case, what will the outcome of meaningful use be?
And, if efficiencies are not gained, as promised, are we really any closer to an improved healthcare system where physicians, especially those in small practices, actually get to spend time with the patients they desire to serve?