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Report Says ICD-10 Costs Will Be Lower Than Expected

According to a recent study published in the Journal Of The American Health Information Management Association, ICD-10 implementation costs can be expected to be significantly below previously estimated figures for smaller practices.

The research behind the report was done by the Professional Association of Health Care Office Management (PAHCOM). 276 practices with fewer than six providers were polled. Although 276 is a relatively small sampling in relation to the nation as a whole, PAHCOM has Chapters and members in many US states from coast-to-coast. Across this diverse population they found that ICD-10 implementation costs per provider averaged $3,430, and the costs to the practices themselves averaged $8,167.

PAHCOM Director, Karen Blanchette, said in a prepared statement that "Our members reported actual data on expenses to date and costs still remaining. The PAHCOM survey is the most comprehensive and current data on ICD-10 implementation costs actually being incurred by small physician practices."

While not small numbers, these actual figures fall far below previous theoretical estimates, indicating that real world numbers are very favourable to ICD-10 adoption. These smaller dollar amounts are significantly offset by the incentive payments they bring in. Many practices may cover their costs in the first year. Some may even make a profit. Of course, after the actual implementation costs are covered in the first year, every incentive payment from that point onward  is gravy.

In comparison, a 2014 report by Nachimson Advisors estimated that costs would be in the range of between $22,560 and $105,506. It should be noted that these numbers were estimates, not actual figures, as in the PAHCOM study.

There is much division on the matter of ICD-10 implementation costs. Some strongly believe the ICD-10 transition in October will actually put many doctors and their practices out of business. This report, based on actual reported numbers rather than cost projections, may serve to allay some of those fears.

Much of the cost savings are directly attributable to the recent rapid adoption by smaller practices of electronic health record systems (EHR) which reduce much of the practice work load by automating much of the paperwork and administration required for ICD and Meaningful Use attestation. In effect, they are proving even more effective than initially predicted as more are adopted throughout the healthcare sphere.