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Feeling Better About ICD-10

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, January 13, 2012
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This article appears in the January 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Editor's note: This piece is based on Senior Quality Editor Cheryl Clark's December 1, 2011, column, 10 Ways ICD-10 Will Improve Quality of Care.

T he popular approach to writing anything about ICD-10 conversion these days is to describe the disastrous impact providers say it will have—or is already having—on healthcare, nearly two years ahead of its launch. From the sound of it, everyone from physicians to nurses to CFOs and CIOs must be preparing for hell itself, or at least stocking up on awesome quantities of Pepcid.

Peter Carmel, MD, president of the American Medical Association, and flocks of physician groups speak of its "onerous" burden, costing each physician $28,000, on top of the reimbursement cuts and other changes they already face. It's another unfunded mandate with no clear benefit leading to access problems for patients, says Diane Bristol, OB-GYN legislative liaison for the Medical Group Management Association in Midland, MI.

I get it; ICD-10 means headaches, money, and time. But I write about quality, so I'm going to damn the torpedoes and talk about the whole point of this undertaking, which is, after all, to improve quality.

The decision to require the transition to ICD-10 was made years ago. Federal agencies and providers developed the U.S. version together with documentation showing that ICD-10 code sets will improve our understanding of why we get sick and how we give care.

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