ICD-10 Implementation Postponed a Second Time

The switch from ICD-9 diagnosis and procedure codes to ICD-10 codes is postponed for certain health care entities to an undetermined date.

The switch from ICD-9 diagnosis and procedure codes to ICD-10 codes is postponed for certain health care entities to an undetermined date.

US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius announced on February 16, 2012, that HHS will initiate a process to postpone the date by which certain health care entities have to comply with the ICD-10 coding system.

The rule to adopt ICD-10 as standard was released in 2008, and had an original compliance date of 2011. This compliance date was pushed back to October 1, 2013, and now HHS plans to delay it again. The final date has not been released, nor has HHS specified which health care organizations will be granted an extension. It has been suggested that different segments of the provider community could have different deadlines.

Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius explained in a press release, “We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead. We are committing to work with the provider community to reexamine the pace at which HHS and the nation implement these important improvements to our health care system.”

There are multiple organizations in support of this extension, including the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American Medical Association. Peter W. Carmel, MD, of the American Medical Association, believes that burdens on health care providers such the ICD-10 implementation should be reduced, not added.

Dr. Carmel said in a statement, “The American Medical Association appreciates Secretary Sebelius' swift response to address the AMA’s serious concerns with ICD-10 implementation. The timing of the ICD-10 transition could not be worse for physicians as they are spending significant financial and administrative resources implementing electronic health records in their practices and trying to comply with multiple quality and health information technology programs that include penalties for noncompliance.”

The ICD-10 changes and deadline will also affect the pharmacy practice, as pharmacies would need to upgrade their software and conduct electronic transactions before the deadline.

Other organizations, such as those in the health information technology (IT) field, are disappointed with the news of the ICD-10 implementation delay. According to Medpage Today, attendees of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) conference viewed the delay as a productivity roadblock. According to a survey presented at the HIMSS meeting, nearly 90% of the 302 hospital IT executives said they were expected to complete their ICD-10 conversion by the October 2013 deadline.

“We tend to gear up and we have a lot of moving pieces in place,” commented Susan Heichert, RN, chief information officer at Allina Hospital and Clinics, to Medpage. “It’s costly to stop a train from moving forward. No matter what that deadline is, if it's 2 years out or 10 years out, it's going to be too hard to get it geared up again.”

Regardless of their feelings on the change of implementation date, health care organizations are anxious to learn of the new deadline, which has yet to be determined. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) sent a letter HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius urging HHS to set a new compliance deadline for ICD-10 code implementation.

“We strongly urge HHS to move quickly and decisively in setting a new compliance date for converting to ICD-10,” according to the CHIME letter. “Every day that passes without a concrete deadline is another day that should have been spent planning and implementing this critical undertaking.”

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