New ICD-10 Transition Date Set

On May 1, Physicians Practice received an e-mail that contained the official statement from a CMS spokesperson regarding the new implementation date.

Finally, an answer for physicians, administrators, and staff members: The ICD-10 implementation date, originally scheduled for Oct. 1, 2014 and delayed by Congress in March, has been rescheduled for Oct. 1, 2015.

On May 1, Physicians Practice received an e-mail containing the official statement from a CMS spokesperson regarding the new implementation date.

"... The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expects to release an interim final rule in the near future that will include a new compliance date that would require the use of ICD-10 beginning October 1, 2015," the e-mail stated. "The rule will also require HIPAA covered entities to continue to use ICD-9-CM through September 30, 2015."

While some physicians viewed the ICD-10 delay as a blessing (the passage of HR 4302 prevented CMS from enacting the ICD-10 coding system until at least October 2015), many others who had invested considerable time and money preparing for the transition found it frustrating and disheartening.

" ... For the administrator of CMS to say emphatically more than once, 'This is not going to get delayed,' and then for it to get delayed, I think physicians are really getting disgruntled and we just are so jerked around," one practice director told Physicians Practice last month.

For that practice director and others like her, the new implementation date may provide some peace of mind. CMS's announcement makes it clear that the ICD-10 transition will happen despite the delay (or at least that it is rescheduled to happen), and that the time, money, and investment spent preparing will likely not go wasted.

"We know that the industry has already invested considerable time and money in implementation," the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) said in a statement regarding the new transition date. "We have long advocated for a coding system that offers flexibility and specificity, enables us to properly assess healthcare services, understand public health needs, and get the best rate of return from our national investment in EHRs and meaningful use."

Most medical billing and coding experts and officials agree that despite the now-official one-year delay to the 2014 transition date, medical practices must continue preparing to ensure they are ready in 2015.

"All along, AHIMA has urged our members to 'stay the course' of preparing for implementation," said the association. "During the coming year, we recommend that the industry keep its momentum going, continuing to prepare by strengthening clinical documentation improvement programs, working with vendors on transition readiness, training coders and other stakeholders, and proceeding with dual coding."

How do you feel about the CMS announcement that the ICD-10 transition will take place Oct. 1, 2015? Share your thoughts in the comments box below.