AHIMA Repeats Opposition to ICD-10 Delay

From Healthcare IT News

CHICAGO – AHIMA has said it before, and it is saying it again. Delaying ICD-10 deadlines is not a good idea.

AHIMA  filed a comment letter Wednesday with the Department of Health and Human Services’ leaders in response to a section of a proposed rule that addresses “Change to the Compliance Date for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Medical Data Code Sets.”

In its letter, AHIMA continues to recommend there be no delay in the ICD-10 compliance deadline. Since a delay is likely, AHIMA leaders said the association will continue to work with HHS and the healthcare industry to ensure the delay is as short as possible, preferably not more than one year.

“ICD-9 is antiquated and no longer adequately meets the challenge of a 21st century healthcare system,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon. “ICD-10 should be implemented in a timely manner, and AHIMA is ready to continue assisting the healthcare community to prepare for the transition.  We also encourage advance testing of the ICD-10 codes to be sure there are no further delays in the implementation deadline.”

AHIMA and the health information management (HIM) professionals who comprise its membership are well qualified to respond to the proposed rule, Thomas Gordon said. Many AHIMA members are on the frontlines and work directly with the classification systems impacted by these rules and were involved in the development and maintenance of the existing code set and the development of ICD-10.

The letter calls attention to the classification system as more than a claims and billing mechanisms. They are critical to the care and diagnosis information that can be synthesized and used for communicating issues of severity, quality and provide better healthcare for the individual patient and the community. For instance, AHIMA noted, the ICD-10 codes significantly expand the ability to document and detail incidences of domestic violence. As a result, health officials can enhance detection and treatment and develop more proactive steps to prevent domestic violence.

“ICD-10 is the foundation for other critical national healthcare initiatives such as meaningful use, value-based purchasing, payment reform, quality reporting and accountable care organizations,” said Dan Rode, AHIMA vice president for advocacy and policy. “Without ICD-10, the value of these other efforts is greatly diminished.”

A delay of more than one year would cause additional confusion for colleges and universities as to what they should be teaching, AHIMA executives noted. Students already have been trained in ICD-10 and are forced to use ICD-9-CM when they enter the work force.

AHIMA also advocated in the letter that transitioning directly to ICD-11 is not a viable option as implementation would not occur until after 2020, even in a best-case scenario. In addition, the structure for ICD-10-CM/PCS is designed to make current and future healthcare technology systems ready for an easy transition to ICD-11.

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