Healthcare CIO group decries ICD-10 delay by government

Staggering the deadlines for physicians and hospitals will only increase costs

A national organization representing healthcare CIOs and other senior IT leaders is upset about U.S. government plans to delay a deadline requiring a new medical coding system.

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is concerned over the federal government's move to delay the requirement for healthcare providers and insurers to roll out the ICD-10 medical coding system.

ICD-10, which is designed to better track diagnoses and treatments, affects dozens of core applications for healthcare providers and insurance payers.

Last week, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said her agency was starting the process to postpone the compliance date. Sebelius said the move was in response to healthcare providers who expressed concerns over the administrative burdens they face, including the rollout of electronic medical records by 2015.

HHS's move follows a similar one in November by the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, which announced it would delay enforcement a new standard for how medical transactions are processed, known as Version 5010. Version 5010 is needed for the adoption of the new ICD-10 medical coding system standard.

CHIME, which has 1,400 CIO and 70 healthcare IT vendors and professional services firms as members, issued a letter in response to the HHS action, saying delaying the ICD-10 deadline "will create more problems" than it solves.

The compliance date for upgrading to Version 5010 standards for electronic health transactions moved from Jan. 1, 2012 to March 31, 2012. The transition to ICD-10 for medical diagnosis and inpatient procedure coding was slated for Oct. 1, 2013. A new deadline has yet to be set by HHS.

"We strongly urge HHS to move quickly and decisively in setting a new compliance date for converting to ICD-10. Every day that passes without a concrete deadline is another day that should have been spent planning and implementing this critical undertaking," the organization wrote.

The move from ICD-9 to ICD-10, which replaces about 15,000 codes with approximately 68,000 new ones, comes at a time when care providers are already under the gun to implement and prove to the federal government the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR).

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