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The New ICD-10 Deadline

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, July 13, 2012
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This article appears in the July 2012 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

When the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced in April that the required go-live rollout of ICD-10 coding would be delayed one year, to October 1, 2014, healthcare providers reacted with sighs of relief, jubilation, disappointment, or stoic determination to stay the course—and occasionally, combinations of the four.

Aside from the American Medical Association, which clings to diminishing hopes that ICD-10 coding will just go away, the U.S. healthcare industry regards adoption of ICD-10 as inevitable, albeit protracted.

When CMS first announced that there would be a delay, but not now long it would be, planners everywhere scratched their heads. Too long a delay and it would be necessary to postpone training programs, lest the recently-trained coders forget the new codes in the interim before the official date.

Some healthcare systems have done enough work so far that they can afford to postpone some ICD-10-related investments into 2013 and attend to more pressing needs now.

"We're not going to totally stop, but we're not under the gun as much," says Gary Barnes, CHCIO, CIO at Medical Center Health System in Odessa, Texas, which includes the 402-licensed-bed Medical Center Hospital.

"We were on target to have everything ready to go" in September 2013, Barnes says. He attributes CMS' one-year delay to the struggles many providers have had implementing changes in version 5010 of HIPAA transactions. But payers weren't ready to deal with the 5010 changes, which increased our days in accounts receivable by about three and a half days," Barnes says. It took a while for this to get sorted out, he adds.

To prepare for ICD-10, MCHS reviewed all of its software applications and found that the new codes would affect eight different computer systems. So, Barnes says, "We were making sure all those systems were updated with the ICD-10-compliant version."

ICD-10 upgrades were necessary for billing software, as well as clinical systems including computerized physician order entry, progress notes, and repository systems, Barnes says.

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