As many are aware, October 1st, 2013 marks the deadline for the requirement that health care providers upgrade their International Classification of Diseases coding system to the 10th edition.  However, in mid-February this year, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the postponing of the compliance deadline to an unspecified date to allow providers more time to prepare. While some worry about losing time and money already spent on the upgrade progress of their EHR software, many see the extra time as an opportunity to ensure thorough compliance to the new standard.

The deadline delay has not slowed down physician questions about ICD-10, according to Kemp Stephens. “Doctors want to know when we’re going to be ready,” he says and explains that Bizmatics does have a department currently working to bring their PrognoCIS software up to compliance to meet deadline.  Another common question received regarding the ICD-10 is whether or not it will be included in the upgrade or if it will come at an extra cost.  Stephens assures that ICD-10 is included in PrognoCIS and the updates.

Curiously, Stephens finds that the upcoming coding change petrifies many doctors. “They’re scared because it’s a whole new language,” he empathizes. “They’re already looking at EMR as slowing down and ICD-10 will slow them down more.”  ICD-10 is so detailed that it actually contains 5 times the amount of diagnostic codes than for ICD-9. Stephens explains it includes very specific codes for detailed events, such as a fall.  The physician will have to fill in the code in their electronic medical record for the events surrounding the incident. “Was it [the fall] down some stairs or because they tripped over a bicycle?” Doctors will have to implement an education program to learn ICD-10 and perhaps rely on the help of coders.

Despite the worry and strife ICD-10 (and its delay) is currently causing, the end result will improve the overall quality of health care. “By gathering data from across the country, you start to get a detailed, granular look at how different things happen to people,” says Stephens. “It can be useful for looking at trends overall and for the government, as to where resources need to be and to get better healthcare.”

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