The ICD-10 transition was originally scheduled to take effect in the US on October 1, 2013. However, the go-live date was pushed back one year to October 1, 2014 by CMS because the healthcare industry was already overwhelmed with other health information technology initiatives and regulatory requirements. Provider organizations complained that the timing, cost, and effort required to prepare for the ICD-10 transition was overly burdensome leading up to October 1, 2013. Therefore, CMS changed the deadline to give the industry more time to prepare. Another delay will not happen and provider organizations have nine months left before the go-live date of October 1, 2014.
Despite the year-long delay, we are just beginning to see how prepared, or not, our industry really is for the transition. Different national survey’s show some healthcare systems are fully prepared already while others have yet to begin their transition process. Some EHR vendors are further along in their preparations while others are still trying to sort our how best to accommodate both the ICD and DSM systems. Large payer systems such as CMS are struggling: CMS initially announced they would accept test transactions, then they rescinded that position indicating no testing would be conducted prior to October 1, 2014. This announcement created an uproar in the provider community. So now, CMS will once again accept test transmissions for one week in March 2014. Multiply the CMS position(s) by every entity you exchange information with and you will begin to understand the enormity, and confusion, of the transition.
Not everyone will have it figured out by October 1, 2014. Think back to the CPT code changes on January 1, 2013: we know the ICD-10 transition will also be messy. However, it is wishful thinking that there will be another delay in ICD-10 implementation. Why? Last Fall, CMS unexpectedly pushed back the deadlines for Stage 2 Meaningful Use. CMS was aware of the requests to delay ICD-10 as well. They had to pick one initiative to delay and it was Meaningful Use Stage 2. Another probable reason is that ICD-11 is right around the corner and it is time for the US to catch up to the rest of the world. The ICD-10 transition has already cost the healthcare system billions of dollars. Delaying the date again is not a viable option for CMS.
We need the ICD-10 transition for the benefit of everyone: providers, payers, research, taxpayers, consumers, and world health. Standardization has been maligned in our industry, but it is necessary to improve health outcomes, establish benchmarking, and rate effectiveness. Consumer preference, treatment effectiveness, and a true holistic model of care (ie: health information exchange, integrated care models, and collaborative documentation with consumers) depend on shifting everyone to ICD-10. Standardization and individualization of treatment can happen simultaneously. Being more specific in diagnosing and documenting conditions is a positive step forward for the health and human service industry.
It is wishful thinking that the ICD-10 Implementation will be delayed again. 2014 is here and we have nine months left to prepare ourselves for a big change that that is both manageable and necessary.