"ICD-11 is in the beta phase right now," Jacobs says. "So we really don't know what it is going to look like when it is finally released in 2015. To say that we'll just forego ICD-10 and go to ICD-11 when we don't even know what the final product is going to look like is really frivolous, I think."
According to another consultant I spoke with who prefers to remain unnamed, the AMA has a hidden agenda when it comes to slowing down adoption of ICD-10.
This consultant says the AMA derives significant revenue from providing codes for a somewhat competitive diagnosis system known as Current Procedural Technology, or CPT.
"The AMA licenses CPT to the federal government and agrees to use it exclusively for characterizing physician work," the consultant says. "That's why in the ICD-10 uptake, doctors didn't have to characterize their work with ICD-10 PCS procedure codes. They only had to do diagnosis codes. They were going to continue to use CPT."
Each year, companies pay the AMA license fees for the current version of CPT to embed in the practice management software piece of electronic health records, the consultant says. "CPT owned by the AMA is the AMA's major source of income, because the AMA updates CPT every year," says the consultant.
AMA critics on this CPT issue have been pushed to the margins, and my raising this concern may place me on the margins as well. But it does provide one plausible theory of why the AMA wants to continue to throw a spanner in the ICD-10 works, ostensibly in favor of ICD-11.
And Janice Jacobs' words of concern about the infeasibility of crosswalk technology from any coding system to any other coding system still echo. For sanity's sake, our industry's implementation of the government's ICD-10 mandate needs to hurtle forward, and now.
Shameless plug: If you're ready to roll up your sleeves and get started, or even if you're already under way, a perfect place to start or continue would be my upcoming HealthLeaders Webcast, "Reboot for ICD-10: Lessons from UnitedHealth Group & North Shore-LIJ," scheduled for Monday, October 22 from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. Eastern time.