ICD-10 Delay Foments a Culture of Distrust

Philip Betbeze, February 24, 2012

What hasn't been said about the "surprise" decision by the Department of Health and Human Services to extend the existing Oct. 10, 2013, ICD-10 implementation deadline?

Well how about this: Despite the fact that the decision may allow a few organizations more time to meet the deadline, the bigger danger is that it will set back the pace of what many feel is a sorely needed, radical makeover of the healthcare system so that it becomes more transparent, safer, and more fraud-resistant.

Not that ICD-10 implementation by itself will achieve transparency, relief from high costs, and poor quality. It won't. Not by itself, that is.

As you already know, ICD-10 is essentially a coding system that costs a lot to implement, and the returns from using it will largely accrue to payers, according to some. Indeed one of the benefits of the new coding regime, although it's supposed to be revenue-neutral, is that it will be a tool for improved healthcare cost control.

On the other side, there are those who argue convincingly that over time, ICD-10 could improve payment accuracy, allow providers to anticipate higher patient volumes, and deliver reams of data that will help improve quality of care

But what's particularly worrying about last week's announcement that ICD-10 implementation will be delayed is the fact that many, if not most, significant healthcare groups are actually opposed extending the deadline. That might be a first.

Philip Betbeze

Philip Betbeze is the senior leadership editor at HealthLeaders Media.

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