ICD-10: Time is running out

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A story last year in Health Imaging News reported that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) had proposed to adopt the ICD-10 code set to replace the ICD-9 code set for diagnoses and procedures by October 2011. In response to strident objections from physicians and payors pushing back against the ambitious timeframe for ICD-10 implementation offered by HHS, the department extended its deadline to October 2013.

Fast-forward to the present and professional associations are warning healthcare providers to formulate their ICD-10 plans and begin implementation this coming January. The stakes are high for practices that serve Medicare beneficiaries; HHS has declared it only will reimburse claims with ICD-10 codes after the 2013 deadline.

From a diagnostic perspective, the HHS proposal is a necessary and prudent step: ICD-10 has space for more than 155,000 codes, which allow for far more specificity and detail than the currently employed ICD-9, which is limited to 17,000 codes.

From a healthcare IT perspective, this upgrade could have a far-reaching impact throughout the infrastructure. Every admission, clinical, discharge, and billing information system in the United States will need to be updated to incorporate the 138,000 additional/new codes as well as their reimbursement data for all government and private payors. In addition, CPT codes will need to be mapped to their new ICD-10 designations.

The good news is that there is still plenty of time to begin an ICD-10 implementation strategy; the bad news is that time to get started is slipping away. We’ll be following efforts to deploy ICD-10 over the coming months and years, so stay tuned as we track this ongoing story.

If you’re looking to add to the healthcare IT capabilities of your practice, please stop by our Healthcare Tech Guide. We have listings for vendors, systems, services, and white papers for a variety of products spanning the healthcare environment.

Lastly, if you have a comment or report to share about the implementation of ICD-10 and its implications for the healthcare IT systems in your practice, please contact me at the address below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Jonathan Batchelor, Web Editor