A Good Time for ICD-10?

Is this a good time for ICD-10? Providers are mandated to implement ICD-10 for outpatient diagnosis coding by October 1, 2014. This could not be at a worse time for healthcare organizations especially small practices. ICD-10 diagnosis codes are used by your provider to describe your illness and are submitted to insurance companies for payment. Providers currently use an older version called ICD-9. ICD-10 will increase the number of available diagnosis codes from 13,000 to 68,000. Medical Economic journal recently estimated the cost per practice to be $83,000-$2.7million according to the practice size.

The American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) recently indicated that providers should not have to bear the economic burden of upgrading to ICD-10. Upgrading requires practice management IT system changes that can be expensive for providers at a time when they are already spending big bucks to implement and upgrade their electronic health records. Meaningful Use Stage II is one initiative which has many providers struggling to meet new quality measures in 2013 and 2014. Other mandated quality programs are also in place leading to an almost insurmountable challenge for the average physician.

When implemented, ICD-10 should be beneficial and help improve accurate coding, and expand billable opportunities for medical practices. Over 20 countries currently use ICD-10 for reimbursement and reallocation within their health systems. It is working for other countries and many would say that it can help make the health system more efficient. I am sure some would disagree.

So how do we get providers the time and resources to upgrade their systems? ICD-10 implementation has already been delayed once. Maybe it needs to be delayed again. All I can say is medical practices, hospitals and other healthcare entities involved with this change will tell you that they have enough to do. However, I think most would agree the change is needed.

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