Half of the providers who responded to a recent ICD-10 readiness survey said they would begin their external testing in the first half of 2014. Still others are only at the internal testing phase or not yet testing at all.
That means hospitals and health systems, along with smaller provider groups, will require ICD-10 testers, test coordinators and QA personnel now through the October 2014 implementation deadline to ensure readiness for the pending ICD-10 conversion.
In an interview with Healthcare IT Leaders, Jim Daley, Chairman of the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), said that providers will rely on a blend of internal personnel and consulting resources to implement multi-faceted testing plans.
"We are reaching the point where providers will start to get deeply into testing," said Daley. "And some are well along that path. So as more organizations say, 'We need to test,' they need people to do it."
Test readiness varies greatly by provider organization, but Daley said he is confident that most large health systems are generally well-prepared.
"It's the smaller organizations that have concerns,” he said. “There are people saying: 'Where do I start?' or 'I think my vendor is going to handle this for me.' Some smaller providers and payor organizations - and even some vendors - are still in the assessment phase.”
WEDI recently submitted a letter to the Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary, encouraging the agency to consider additional Medicare testing prior to ICD-10 implementation. The organization said end-to-end testing will help uncover issues and allow time for corrections before the implementation deadline.
"Until you connect up that full end-to-end stream from the providers through the clearinghouse partners to Medicare, you never know what might shake out,” said Daley. “So it's always good for due diligence to run some transactions through that whole cycle.”
The growing focus on testing has driven an uptick in demand for software testers, according to Healthcare IT Leaders President Brad Elster. “Our clients are definitely coming to us with more testing jobs. They are reviewing their plans and turning to outside consultants and contractors to ensure that they are sufficiently staffed for this major undertaking.”
Ideal candidates for ICD-10 test jobs should have 3-5 years testing experience and some experience with ICD-10 in a provider or payor setting, as well as familiarity with enterprise software testing tools.