The implementation of ICD-10 has been contentious and complicated to say the least, leading some forecasters to predict disastrous scenarios when the code is finally put into use. That led Congress to delay the implementation deadline from October 2014 to October 2015. The deadline extension came as a surprise to many and has been met with a conflicting response – some in favor of the extra time and others firmly opposed. This brief outline lays out the arguments expressed by both sides.

Reasons the ICD-10 Delay Could be a Bad Thing for Compliance in 2015

Some have pointed out that past delays have done little to nothing to promote industry-wide compliance. They have also expressed worry that extra time will lead to a loss in momentum. These are some of their more specific concerns:

  • Budgets for ICD-10 preparation are beginning to run out and in some cases can’t be resupplied
  • HIM professionals are being reassigned, stretching the ICD-10 brain trust thin
  • Continued delays are diminishing physician engagement
  • ICD-10 training is having a reduced effect because coders are still primarily using ICD-9
  • Staffing problems will arise as expert HIM professionals retire and contract workers are asked to wait for another year.
  • Extra time will only allow rumors and speculation to circulate, damaging implementation efforts and making the October 2015 deadline less certain.

Reasons the ICD-10 Delay Could be a Good Thing for Compliance in 2015

Others view the delay as a positive and the extra time as essential. They point to steady gains in compliance readiness in recent years and view the next 12 months as the final stretch of a long run. In their estimation, the extended deadline will offer ample time for all stakeholders to carry out initiatives like these to ensure compliance in 2015:

  • Engage with and educate physicians and staff
  • Place an intense focus on coder education
  • Reduce the reliance on outsourced coding staff
  • Assess and improve ICD-10 coding accuracy
  • Analyze accrued data to identify high-risk areas affecting compliance
  • Investigate the potential of CAC technology
  • Demonstrate the value of ICD-10

In all likelihood, both parties are right. It is undeniable that an alarming number of healthcare providers were not prepared for the October 2014 deadline and now have some time to work out the kinks. But at the same time, as many front-line HIM professionals are aware, continued delays have led to lots of wasted effort and scrapped plans while doing little to mitigate the systematic concerns many have expressed about ICD-10. Making the most of the extra year will require all stakeholders to acknowledge the challenges while working to seize this possibly final opportunity. Follow along with the recruiting team at MedPartners HIM as we continue to report on the industry-changing implications of ICD-10.