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HIMSS Leaders Ask CMS to Stay the Course on ICD-10 Implementation

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

ICD-10 Implementation  

Key Issue:HIMSS warns against further delays in transitioning to the ICD-10 code set.

Supporting Details:HIMSS leaders tell CMS that the shift to ICD-10 is key for modernizing the nation's health care systems and implementing several ACA initiatives.

By Kendra Casey Plank  

One of the nation's leading health information technology industry groups is urging CMS to stick with its revised October 2014 date for shifting the country's health care system to ICD-10.

In a Feb. 7 letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society called the transition to ICD-10 critical to implementation of several programs under the Affordable Care Act, and said the federal government should not further delay or scrap the move to the new coding system.

“We urge CMS to give a strong message to the industry that ICD-10 has already been thoroughly vetted, will be implemented on the regulatory date, and that we must move forward with the nationwide implementation of ICD-10 by the current adoption date of October 1, 2014, in order to realize the significant advantages of healthcare transformation,” HIMSS leaders wrote in the letter.

Last December, the American Medical Association and 82 state medical and physician specialty groups called on CMS to cancel implementation of the ICD-10 code set entirely, saying the shift would create significant burdens on providers with no benefit to patients (see previous article).

ICD-10, or the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, is a code set updating health care diagnoses and procedures from 13,000 codes in ICD-9 to 68,000 codes. CMS released a final rule on Aug. 24, 2012, delaying the compliance date for ICD-10 from Oct. 1, 2013, to Oct. 1, 2014 (see previous article).

ICD-10 'Foundational.'

HIMSS characterized the transition to ICD-10 as “foundational” to the nation's health care system, and one that health care organizations have been “preparing diligently to meet.”

Among specific reasons HIMSS listed for staying the course for ICD-10 implementation were long-term cost reductions and improved patient experience by minimizing the need for prior authorization codes and avoiding treatment delays.

HIMSS leaders also wrote in the letter that the transition to an updated coding system would better ensure the full benefits of a wide range of health IT initiatives--including the “meaningful use” incentive program--would be realized.

Support for Providers.

HIMSS cited its own efforts to help the health care community make the transition to ICD-10, such as publishing an ICD-10 Playbook on its website that covers such topics as advanced preparation and strategic planning around the shift.

HIMSS also cited its collaboration with the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI) and the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA) to provide guidance to health care practitioners through the transition.

“There is no shortage of information for providers to accomplish this task,” according to the HIMSS letter. “EHR vendors and others are performing necessary upgrades to assist providers in this effort. Their schedules are built around the existing regulatory requirement even though they have already experienced significant disruption during the first delay.”

WEDI announced in January it was conducting an online survey to gauge health care industry progress in implementing the ICD-10 code set (see previous article) . The WEDI survey is being conducted through Feb. 20.

HIMSS members, who include health care providers, understand the “valid” concerns raised by other physician groups about implementation, but HIMSS leaders wrote in the letter to Tavenner that the U.S. health care coding system needed to keep pace with “21st century progress, both nationally and globally.”

The letter is available at http://www.himss.org/content/files/HIMSS_LetterHHS_CMS_ICD10Recommendations.pdf.

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