As we know, ICD-10 has been delayed despite the fact that those of us throughout the healthcare industry had been preparing for the switch that was set to take place Oct. 1, 2014. Many were relieved by the decision to push back the ICD-10 implementation because of other overwhelming regulation and issues they felt were more pressing, such as meaningful use. While still others remain frustrated by the chain of events because they have invested heavily into the move, and would like to put aside the continual delays and finally move the process along.
AHIMA recently released the following statement about the ICD-10 delay: “On behalf of our more than 72,000 members who have prepared for ICD-10 in good faith, AHIMA will seek immediate clarification on a number of technical issues such as the exact length of the delay,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, MBA, RHIA, CAE, FACHE, FAHIMA. “AHIMA will continue our work with various public sector organizations and agencies, such as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), along with our industry partners, such as the ICD-10 Coalition, so that ICD-10 will realize its full potential to improve patient care and reduce costs. These are goals that AHIMA and other healthcare stakeholders and our government leaders all share.”
However, the Medical Group Management Association thought the delay prudent, issuing the following: “It’s recognition that the industry is simply not ready for the transition,” said Robert Tennant, senior policy adviser for MGMA, which has, along with the American Medical Association and other professional and industry groups, lobbied for the delay.
That said, even though the deadline was pushed back another year, many still wonder why the delay was needed and what they should do in the interim.
Modern Healthcare recently reported in its annual survey of executive opinions on health IT issues that ICD-10 preparations dominated their plans and preparations. However, just 8 percent of survey respondents indicated their ICD-10 work was done, while 57 percent listed it as a work in progress, 19 percent said they would start within 12 months, 11 percent had not started and 5 percent said they had not considered it. These numbers clearly suggest a delay may have been the best thing for all parties involved in healthcare IT.
In simple terms, the delay allows practices the opportunity to upgrade their software appropriately and continue internal testing so they’ll fully understand the impact ICD-10 will have on their businesses.
Even though CMS had previously and publically stated there would be no further delay, it’s clear that as with other regulation and reform, extension such as those seen with as meaningful use are the new norm. We’re in a time of great transition in healthcare IT and we probably should anticipate and expect delays on every avenue. However, that doesn’t mean we should become complacent.
Caregivers may continue to worry that, with about 64,000 very specific ICD-10 codes, they will have a much harder time recording the right data to get their claims paid by CMS and by insurers. Some of this concern, of course, may be caused by lack of confidence in their vendor partners that provide services and support to their healthcare organizations. Vendors are burdened, like their caregiver counterparts, by overwhelming reform and regulation and meeting stringent guidelines. No excuse certainly, but an issue nonetheless. In times of great change an upheaval, a strong case can be made for identifying relationships and partners that can guide those directly involved in an overwhelming experience from the forest and through the trees. Third-party consultants and outside experts might be the best solution to managing an ever-evolving problem, such as continual delay and ongoing reform.
For example, those of us at Alego Health understand the complexities of such programs, how the delays affect healthcare organizations and we work with many healthcare organizations to bring them to their ultimate destination. Even though the delay gives us another year or more to move toward successful implementation of ICD-10, it’s clear the confusion surround this issue is likely not going to subside anytime soon. And, as suggested by many in healthcare, the delay is no time to grow complacent, but instead a time to act.