AHIMA: Expect widespread effects of ICD-10 delay

 
 
 
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According to an article published in the Journal of the American Health Information Management Association, the ICD-10 implementation deadline impacts all sectors of the healthcare industry.

In April, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a proposed rule that would officially push back the ICD-10 compliance date one year, to October 1, 2014.

AHIMA's experts have said that any ICD-10 delay hurts the healthcare industry by prolonging the switch to a more modern and specific code system that will improve healthcare reporting, and even care itself. The longer the delay, the worse the impact, according to Dan Rode, MBA, vice president of advocacy and policy at AHIMA. A one-year delay is more manageable than an extended one, but still likely to have a negative impact on the healthcare industry, Rode said in the article.

"The biggest fear of ICD-10 supporters is that a delay in the ICD-10 deadline will cause people to either halt their implementation plan or continue to procrastinate," the article read. "Neither is recommended. AHIMA has urged the healthcare industry to remain vigilant in their ICD-10 transition efforts despite an implementation delay."

The article included how the delay affects various healthcare sectors:

Government:
A delay of ICD-10 means programs like meaningful use will need to evaluate when they start requiring ICD-10 and possibly hold off on aspects of the program. Other initiatives that were designed to reimburse physicians based on quality rather than charges also used ICD-10 codes and may be altered or delayed.

Working ICD-10 into official government EHR certification now will save facilities from having to retrofit those systems to ICD-10 as the industry nears the revamped implementation deadline, Rode says.

Providers:
A one-year delay would require adjusting some implementation plans and working in more test time. A two-year delay would require halting some plans, leading facilities to possibly redo their impact assessment and "re-spend" money on implementation efforts, such as retraining ICD-10 trainers and re-allocating staff who were once dedicated to the switch—both of which could lose some expertise on ICD-10 during a delay.

Education:
The ICD-10 delay has caused some chaos for educators trying to offer their HIM and coding students an up-to-date, but relevant, education. Education programs have had to re-evaluate their ICD-10 transition timelines and continue to teach both ICD-9 and ICD-10 to new students.

The delay also impacts schools financially. The article cited Alfred State College, which devoted 20 percent of its budget last year to the ICD-10 transition, training faculty and redesigning its life science and medical terminology courses that support coder training. Delaying implementation will cost the college more money in training new educators and redesigning their transition plan to account for the added time that dual coding education is needed.

Credibility with both students and educators has been shaken. Educators have been assuring students for a year that ICD-10 would not be delayed. They took the government at its word and planned accordingly.

"While implementation does take time and money, AHIMA is certain that effort will pay off in the form of a better coding classification system," the article concluded. "Organizations just need to stay the course and work toward the new compliance date, be that 2014, or beyond."