Impact of ICD-10 Delay for Healthcare Providers

There has been a great hype about ICD-10 implementation for the past 6 months. However, the implementation of the new code system has been delayed until October 1, 2015. Healthcare professionals who have been rushing to equip their practices for ICD-10 coding implementation now have more time to equip themselves as well as their practices to meet the ICD-10 challenge.President Barack Obama has signed into law the Protecting Access to Medicare Act, “doc fix” HR (4302), that delays the scheduled cuts to Medicare physician reimbursement rates.The transition process to ICD-10 coding system was regarded as a major concern in the healthcare industry with physicians continuously focusing on efficient medical billing solutions and electronic health record (EHR) software providers getting prepared for the new coding change. However, the decision to delay the ICD-10 coding system has generated mixed responses from the healthcare industry.Earlier, many healthcare providers were expected to adopt this medical coding transition by October 1, 2014. With about 55,000 more codes to be added in ICD-10 as against ICD-9’s 13,000 codes, there will be more clarity for each new code. Several countries across the globe have already adopted the ICD-10 medical coding system. Moreover, the CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner during the “Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Convention” held on February 27, 2014 had confirmed that there will be no further delays to the implementation of ICD-10 coding system.How ICD- 10 Implementation Delay Will Affect PhysiciansThe new deadline has proved to be a surprising move for healthcare professionals and has drawn mixed responses. Those healthcare practices that have not actually begun their ICD-10 training or updating of their billing and EHR processes will eventually benefit from this new deadline as they will get more time to adapt to the new medical billing and coding process. On the other hand, many other healthcare providers are not happy with this new move as they have already invested enough time and resources in upgrading their systems and training workers to prepare for the ICD-10 transition.Presently with another 1 year more for ICD-10 implementation these healthcare practices will have to carry on their training process for the additional period in a better manner. Healthcare practices should try not to lose transition momentum and utilize the benefits of the extended deadline in the best possible manner. Ongoing ICD-10 education and training for physicians, coders and other users of health records will surely improve their proficiency in the new coding system. This will also help to improve clinical documentation and data integrity that will in turn clearly highlight the severity of illness and treatment.The extension of the ICD-10 coding system deadline will give a new opportunity for some healthcare providers to plan a successful transition, minimizing financial and compliance risks and improving clinical documentation. Despite the delay in ICD-10 implementation, it is advisable for healthcare organizations to sustain transition momentum, redesign their transition plan and remain active participants.