Meaningful Use Efforts Holding Back HIPAA 5010 Transition

Posted on February 7, 2011 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare consultant and analyst with 20 years of industry experience. Zieger formerly served as editor-in-chief of and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also contributed content to hundreds of healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. Contact her at @ziegerhealth on Twitter or visit her site at Zieger Healthcare.

While it’s all well and good to prepare for Meaningful Use compliance, IT departments may be going a bit overboard.  A new survey by HIMSS has concluded that providers are being diverted from critical efforts like the HIPAA 5010/ICD-10 transition by efforts to capture MU bonuses.

It’s hardly surprising, given the tempting candy MU incentives offer, but it’s a bit worrisome too.  After all, preparing for 5010 transactions requires a mountain of work, touching electronic claims, eligibility verification, claim status, referral certification and more.  This is NOT something you can afford to ignore, particularly given the risk of incurring CMS’s wrath.

Consider this:  a full 35 percent of the providers responding to the HIMSS survey this summer said they had no plans at all in place to implement a 5010 readiness project. This despite the fact that they were supposed to begin testing by January 1 of this year.

Instead, HIMSS found, providers are spending much of their time working to qualify for MU money, neglecting the 5010 transition for now.  The HIMSS folks hypothesize that providers are laying low on 5010 now, hoping to squeeze in under the January 1, 2012 final deadline. Hey, maybe if IT leaders stick their heads in the sand long enough, the deadline itself will go away!

In reality, we all know what will happen — the same thing that happens whenever an enterprise punts on a critical initiative. Over the next several months, expect facilities to dump truckloads of money on vendors and tech help. Consultants, start your engines!