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ICD-10 Proponents Cry Foul

Cheryl Clark, for HealthLeaders Media, March 1, 2012

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has made it official that her agency will "initiate a process" to "examine the pace" of ICD-10's implementation, with a new compliance date forthcoming. But many quality leaders and providers, not to mention vendors, who attended at HIMSS12 last week are imploring HHS to hang tough.

The pro-ICD-10 crowd insists ICD-10 should not be delayed. But if it must be, they want any postponement to be short-lived, limited in scope or perhaps phased in with a transition period. And they are mustering a fight to make their case.

"Our stance is, we're opposed to any kind of delay," says Sue Bowman, director of Coding Policy and Compliance for the 64,000-member American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA).

"It's just so ironic to me," Bowman continues. "We're all talking about how much we need to cut healthcare costs and improve quality of care. And how we're not where we want to be with quality. And oh, by the way, we're not going to bother upgrading our healthcare data. It just doesn't make any sense."

What HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius fails to fully appreciate, Bowman says, is that "an enormous amount of money has been poured into this process already by the healthcare industry—many, many millions." But they will have to spend a lot more if this is delayed.

"I've heard of some organizations talking about numbers like, $50 million, $60 million and even $90 million that they've already spent. Look at the timeline: We're closer to what was going to be the finish line than we are to the starting gate."

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