Healthcare CIO group decries ICD-10 delay by government

Staggering the deadlines for physicians and hospitals will only increase costs

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ICD-10 codes provide more robust and specific data that will help improve patient care and enable the exchange of U.S. health care data with other nations already using ICD-10. Entities covered under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) will be required to use the ICD-10 diagnostic and procedure codes.

ICD-10's complex code and its impact on EHRs, various billing systems, reporting packages and other decision-making and analytical systems will require major upgrades or the replacement of current systems.

The changeover will probably cost larger hospitals between $2 million and $5 million, and large care groups as much as $20 million, said James Swanson, director of client services at Virtusa, an IT services and consulting company.

ICD-10 will also require staff at hospitals and private physician practices to map and load codes, redo system interfaces, redevelop reports and retrain users. The system changes will affect nurses, physicians, patient financial services, case management, utilization review and other staff in addition to coders.

"The ICD-10 code set will give providers more granular information that will, in turn, allow us to better tell the patient's story," CHIME wrote. "This will lead to better outcomes for patients and increased innovation for the healthcare delivery system as a whole."

The group "implored" HHS to focus on changing ICD-10 "codes that matter and leaving aside those that do not."

The health IT organization said that if HHS insists on staggered compliance dates, meaning different deadlines for physicians and hospitals, then insurance companies should have their compliance date set in advance so that there's an opportunity to test the ICD-10 coding in transaction systems.

"We also issue a final word of caution," CHIME wrote. "If the postponement process requires physicians to meet one compliance date and hospitals a different date, unnecessary costs will be incurred. In order for the ICD-10 conversion to go as smoothly as possible, all segments of the provider community need to be in lockstep."

Lucas Mearian covers storage, disaster recovery and business continuity, financial services infrastructure and health care IT for Computerworld. Follow Lucas on Twitter at @lucasmearian or subscribe to Lucas's RSS feed . His e-mail address is

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Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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