May 9, 2016

Testing Lessons Learned from ICD-10

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The ICD-10 migration was by most accounts highly successful, despite its enormity of scope and effort. Since there will likely be other large changes coming down the road, the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) felt it would be important to understand why this transition went so well and to capture the knowledge gained so it can be applied to future efforts.  

Testing played an important role in the success. With that in mind, WEDI’s ICD-10 testing sub-work group solicited members to submit lists of items they identified as representing important lessons learned during the testing phase of ICD-10. These lists were compiled into an issue brief that offers insights into some approaches that were effective and others that were not. The information is organized according to provider, clearinghouse, and payer perspectives.

The following represents a few key lessons contained in the issue brief:

  • Early communication with vendors is critical. This can help ensure that products or services will be available in time for customer testing and that they will offer the desired functionality. Frequently, organizations are using significantly older versions of software that must be upgraded to the current release. Purchase agreements may not always include costs for these upgrades, so there may be budget implications as well.
  • Customers should not rely solely on software vendors for testing. Often, software is customized at the customer location. Business processes can also have an impact. Just because a product was tested extensively elsewhere doesn’t mean it will work the way you expect it to in your environment.  
  • Testing is not just an IT function. Business knowledge is essential to effective testing. Internal processes must be tested to ensure they provide the information necessary to properly use products/services. Accomplishing this may also require special training of business staff.
  • Don’t wait until the last minute to test with trading partners. As can be seen with a rush-hour traffic jam, it’s not reasonable to have everyone test concurrently. If you wait too long, your trading partners may not be able to accommodate your testing request.
  • Avoid testing with trading partners until your systems are working correctly. If your internal processes and applications contain too many flaws, test results will be unreliable and precious time and effort will be wasted.
  • Communicate with trading partners regarding the test process. You need to know how to submit test transactions and whether special data requirements exist, such as dates or identifiers.
The above reflects just some of the information captured in the issue brief. For the full document, please visit the WEDI website at www.wedi.org. Not only can we learn from our mistakes, we can also learn from our successes.

One final note: WEDI’s annual national conference will be held May 23-26 in Salt Lake City, and WEDI encourages readers to attend and share their experiences with other industry leaders on a variety of key topics.

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