Possible ICD-10 Delay Nets Widespread Physician Support

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media , February 15, 2012

"We have been consistently over the years asking CMS to institute a pilot test to identify correctly what the benefits and the costs will be to the industry, especially to physician practices, to identify an intelligent pathway forward for any change, and to recognize that this might require some financial assistance for physician practices," Tennant said.

"And we have consistently said that we should not move forward with ICD-10 until 5010 was fully in place. The 5010 process has not gone particularly well. They are already in contingency mode and 5010 is a tiny percentage of the challenge that physician practices will face moving to ICD-10."

McNutt and Smith say that finding and training ICD-10 coders may prove to be the biggest hurdle for providers in a compressed timeframe.

"The medical records coder implementations are significant. It's not clear how significant, but you hear numbers like 25%-50% reduction in productivity," Smith says. "That means we are going to have to come up with a lot of coders in the next 18 months, not only training the ones you have on ICD-10 but additional capacity. The longer we wait the better chance we will have for more advanced automated coding assist tools to help with that transition." 

Whittington says that the AMA and other groups that want to delay the implementation date are using overheated rhetoric and motivated by "their own selfish interest and not the best interest of moving healthcare in the nation forward as a whole."

"Calling this an 'unfunded mandate' is a harsh statement because the rest of the developed world is already on ICD-10," she says. "We have known about this change for years. ICD-9 was designed in the 1970s. So it's not like this is an 'all of a sudden we have to do this' thing. It's moving to a system that will work better for us."



John Commins is a senior editor with HealthLeaders Media.
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