Healthcare News & Insights

AHIMA: ICD-10 delay is bad for health care

The federal government recently proposed a rule that would delay the deadline to transition to ICD-10 codes by one year. Some groups say that’s not enough time to let healthcare organizations prepare for the change – but others say a one-year delay is too long. 

After months of speculation, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed to push back the ICD-10 deadline to October 1, 2014. The proposal got a mixed response from organizations and observers. Some groups, such as the American Medical Association (AMA), have argued that delay still doesn’t provide enough time to prepare for the transition away from the old ICD-9 codes.

The AMA recently sent HHS a letter, pushing the agency to delay the ICD-10 deadline further and take more time to evaluate whether a full transition to the new code set should even be completed right now.

However, other groups believe a longer delay would be detrimental, and that the transition should take place by October 1, 2013, as previously planned.

A prolonged delay would hurt the healthcare industry, argues a recent article published in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association. According to AHIMA, a long delay would likely convince organizations to pause their ICD-10 implementations, making the process even more costly and drawn out.

For providers, that means many will spend extra money to re-train employees and re-allocate staff members who were preparing for the switch. Also, some government incentive programs that would have used ICD-10 codes (for example, EHR certification for meaningful use) would have to be reevaluated and possibly delayed, AHIMA says.

Also, the group warned, the longer the delay, the longer the wait until healthcare organizations can use a more advanced coding system that should improve reporting and care.

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