ICD-10 Delay May Not Be Enough for Physicians

August 27, 2012



Physicians and practice administrators can breathe a little easier. On August 24, HHS officially announced the ICD-10 compliance date delay from Oct. 1, 2013 to Oct. 1, 2014.

HHS said the decision to finalize the delay, first proposed in April, is due to the fact that providers and other entities need “more time to prepare and fully test their systems to ensure a smooth and coordinated transition by all covered entities.”

Still, some physicians say that while they are pleased with the one-year delay, HHS should have done more.

"The AMA appreciates the administration's decision to provide a one-year delay in response to AMA advocacy, but we have urged CMS to do more to reduce the regulatory burdens on physician practices so physicians can spend more time with patients,” emergency physician Steven J. Stack, AMA board chair, said in a statement. “The AMA recommended that CMS delay the move to ICD-10 by a minimum of two years."

The movement toward ICD-10, which will require physicians and staff to contend with 68,000 codes - five times as many as they currently deal with - comes at the wrong time, Stack said, noting that physicians are already dealing with a variety of stressors, including transitioning to new delivery and payment models.

“The implementation of ICD-10 will create more challenges for physicians when our Medicare system is broken and cannot provide adequate funding to cover the cost of these additional administrative burdens,” he said.

Medical Group Management Association and American College of Medical Practice Executives (MGMA-ACMPE) president Susan Turney said the organization also has concerns despite the delay.

The MGMA is “not confident that critical trading partners, including Medicare and state Medicaid plans, will be ready in time to conduct testing well in advance of the October 2014 compliance date,” Turney said in a statement. “We urge CMS to significantly escalate its implementation efforts by pilot testing ICD-10, ensuring health plan, clearinghouse and vendor readiness, and developing comprehensive educational resources.”

But Steve Sisko, a healthcare and business technology expert specializing in ICD-10, told HealthcareIT News, that if HHS had delayed the compliance date for more than one year, it could have harmful effects for the ICD-10 transition overall.

"A delay beyond one year would probably cause most people to mothball the entire project, while the Oct 1, 2014 deadline keeps momentum going and maintains the value of work already done,” he said.

And AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon said that now at least, physicians and other entities have a deadline with which they can work toward.

ICD-10-CM/PCS implementation is inevitable, but today’s news gives the healthcare community the certainty and clarity it needs to move forward with implementation, testing, and training,” Lynne said in a statement.

What do you think of the one-year ICD-10 compliance date delay? Does it ease up on the burdens for physicians?