ICD-10 Proponents Cry Foul

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media , March 1, 2012

On February 17, just before the HIMSS12 conference in Las Vegas, and just after Sebelius announced the change in course, HIMSS leaders said it polled most larger providers and learned they "are taking the necessary steps to be ready for ICD-10" by October 2013, and that nearly 90% of 302 healthcare IT executives who responded to a HIMSS survey expect to meet the deadline.

It's not surprising vendors would be especially upset by a delay. One of them, Edifecs, which provides healthcare software, conducted a survey at the 2012 ICD-10 Summit in Florida revealing that the cost of delaying implementation just one year could cost the industry between $475 million to more than $4 billion.

It's unclear what HHS plans to do, and its vague notice seemed to hedge. The agency defended ICD-10's ability to "provide more robust and specific data that will help improve patient care and enable the exchange of our healthcare data with that of the rest of the world that has long been using ICD-10" and acknowledged that providers bound by the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act "will be required to use the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codes." 

That doesn't mean HHS is putting off implementation indefinitely, only that it will "reexamine the pace" of implementation. And that could mean not postponing it for everyone or, as Casillas suggests, finding some way for a phased transition.

I'm thinking this may present the possibility for additional financial and or technical support for smaller physician practices and others within the AMA who cried the loudest.

We're hearing chatter that HHS is expected to clarify this confusion in the next few days, and I know everyone is anxiously waiting for that.

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