Physicians who are anticipating another postponement of ICD-10 are at odds with some of the nation's largest healthcare organizations. These industry professionals do not want to see another delay in the coding switch and have voiced their opinions to the government.
Impact of postponement
ICD-10, the medical coding system set to replace ICD-9, was initially scheduled to be implemented in 2011. There have been four delays in the U.S. transition date, the most recent of which set Oct. 1, 2015, as the final deadline.
Many small healthcare providers have struggled to make the necessary preparations for the switch, and this was one of the reasons the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued the postponement. However, many industry experts believe that continuing to use ICD-9 is hurting both providers and patients.
Many developed nations, including China, Canada, France and Germany, have been using ICD-10 for years. Because the U.S. is using an outdated coding system, it makes information exchange with other countries difficult and time-consuming.
The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) also noted that ICD-10 has potential to track diseases and health trends across the country better than ICD-9. The increased specificity of the coding system will help healthcare agencies to collect more accurate data, which can be used to prevent and treat diseases.
Organizations oppose further delays
A number of large healthcare organizations, including the AHIMA, College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and America's Health Insurance Plans, are concerned that Congress will issue yet another ICD-10 postponement. These groups - 15 in total - have banded together to form the Coalition for ICD-10 and recently released a letter to the government making the case that 2015 should be the final implementation date.
The letter, which addresses a number of House and Senate leaders, noted that the previous delays have been disruptive to the workflow of healthcare providers and have caused unnecessary expenses to many organizations.
"Nearly three-quarters of the hospitals and health systems surveyed just before the current delay were confident in their ability to successfully implement ICD-10," the organizations wrote in the letter. "Retraining personnel and reconfiguring systems multiple times in anticipation of the implementation of ICD-10 is unnecessarily driving up the cost of healthcare."
The organizations argue that the benefits of the switch will outweigh the cost. However, recent surveys have shown that small healthcare providers are anticipating challenges with implementation. These practices should continue their preparation for the change, because if the Coalition gets its way, ICD-10 will go live come October.