Industry experts respond to announcement of ICD-10 deadline delay

Press Releases, February 27, 2012

Industry experts respond as HHS has confirmed its intent to delay the ICD-10 compliance deadline, according to its latest press release.

"We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead," HHS Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius said in the press release. "We are committing to work with the provider community to reexamine the pace at which HHS and the nation implement these important improvements to our healthcare system."

Though the new deadline remains unclear, CMS previously confirmed CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner's statement that the agency will use the rulemaking process when revisiting the ICD-10 implementation timeline. The rulemaking process can be lengthy, so it may well be a while before a firm date is established.

For those who may not agree that a long delay—or any at all—is the best course of action, experts recommend  monitoring the rulemaking and taking advantage of any comment period.

"Make CMS well aware of the facts regarding your current ICD-10 progress and the overwhelming burdens that any delay would create," said Debbie Mackaman, RHIA, CHCO, regulatory specialist for HCPro, Inc., in Danvers, MA.

What should providers do next in the face of the news?

The advice from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is clear: Keep moving forward. Per AHIMA's February 14 press release, the organization "encouraged the healthcare community to continue to prepare for the ICD-10 transition and not delay or suspend efforts to meet the ICD-10 current compliance deadline."
Said Dan Rode, MBA, CHPS, FHFMA, vice president for advocacy and policy at AHIMA. "It is still important for organizations to move forward. This delay should not stop implementation."

Others agree that forward progress is essential.

"I agree with the position to continue efforts until such time as we get an actual date change," said Gloryanne Bryant, RHIA, CCS, CCDS, regional managing director of HIM, NCAL revenue cycle, at Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. & Hospitals in Oakland, CA. "There is much to keep us busy with ICD-10 readiness, thus staying with your plan is the best approach for now."

Mixed reactions

News of the potential delay is being met with diverse reactions.

"The provider population is just coming off the preparation efforts for 5010, so a slight delay may be appropriate," said Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, chief operating officer at First Class Solutions, Inc. in Maryland Heights, MO. However, the delay should not be excessive, she said. Those proactive providers that have ICD-10 preparations well underway should be able to "get on" with their other activities, as they have a number of competing priorities right now.

The reaction by the physician community is to be expected: "There will be much rejoicing..." said Robert S. Gold, MD, CEO of DCBA, Inc., in Atlanta. He believes that the physicians lack the tools they need for the transition.

Meanwhile, as James S. Kennedy, MD, CCS, a director in the FTI Healthcare group explained, the rest of the world is already using ICD-10 and will likely transition to ICD-11 soon, while the United States is still using ICD-9. "Change is necessary if we are to develop a robust database of our patients' illnesses and treatments as to better measure outcomes and efficiency. While ICD-10 is not perfect—nothing is—we should not let the need for perfection be the enemy of the common good. Procrastination is not the solution," Dr. Kennedy said.

Jennifer Avery, CCS, CPC-H, CPC, CPC-I, regulatory specialist for HCPro, Inc, agreed. "I think it would be a tragedy to delay the process any further because we are so far behind the ball now that it is going to be even more difficult playing catch up."

Shannon McCall, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPC, CPC-I, CEMC, CCDS, director of HIM and coding, at HCPro also questioned the decision to delay so late in the game after providers have already invested in assessments and revised systems.

HCPro's regulatory specialists are continuing to develop and conduct end-to-end training on ICD-10 for multiple different audiences within healthcare organizations as clients fine-tune and begin to implement their readiness programs. For more information on HCPro enterprise training programs, visit www.icd10power.com.

Editor's note: Visit www.icd-10trainers.com for the latest news and information on the delay of the ICD-10 compliance deadline.