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Report: ICD-10 Costs Lower Than Expected for Small Physician Offices

New data published online in the Journal of AHIMA suggests that the estimated costs, time, and resources required by physician offices to convert to ICD-10 are "dramatically lower" than initially estimated. The evidence also suggests that physicians and their office staff, vendors, and health plans have made considerable progress on ICD-10 implementation with fewer resources than previously estimated.

The article estimates that the ICD-10 conversion costs for a small practice are in the range of $1,900–$5,900. This is in stark contrast to a 2014 update of a widely referenced 2008 report by Nachimson Advisors to the American Medical Association, which estimated the cost for a small practice to implement ICD-10 was in the range of $22,560–$105,506.

The authors of the Journal of AHIMA article—Thomas C. Kravis, MD; Susan Belley, MEd, RHIA; Donna M. Smith, RHIA; and Richard F. Averill, MS, of 3M Health Information Systems—based their estimates on results from recent surveys, published reports, and ICD-10 conversion experience with hospitals and physicians. The authors defined a small practice as three physicians and two impacted staff members such as coders and/or office personnel.  

"This research confirms that the ICD-10 conversion for small practices is not only highly achievable but far less onerous than many have suggested," says AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. "AHIMA remains committed to helping small practices with their transition to ICD-10, a modern and robust coding system that will lead to improved patient care and better health outcomes at reduced costs."

In the article, the authors examine the costs for training, software upgrades, superbill conversion, end-to-end testing, and productivity. They attribute the lower estimates to the industry's increased knowledge and readiness for ICD-10 combined with the availability of low cost ICD-10 activities and resources.

2 Code Books $0–$600 $0 $0 $0–$600
Staff Training 1 to 2 Days $400–$1,500 per person 16 to 32 hours at $50 per hour $800–$1,600 $1,200–$3,100
3 MD Online 3 Hours $50–$300 9 hours at $81–$194 per hour $720–$1,900 $760–$2,200
End-to-End Testing $0 $0 $0 $0
Super Bill $0 $0 $0 $0
      Total $1,960–$5,900


Some additional findings in the study include the following:

Source: AHIMA