Healthcare Community Sees Long-Term Value of ICD-10

ICD10 longtermICD-10 is the 10th iteration of the International Classification of Diseases issued by the World Health Organization. It is set to be adopted by healthcare professionals by Oct. 1, 2015 after a year-long delay. As the compliance date approaches, more medical professionals are anticipating the far-reaching benefits of a common global code, such as easier and improved analysis of causes of illness and death, management of public health trends and threats, and effectiveness of treatments.  

ICD-10 allows for much greater detail than ICD-9 when describing injuries, illnesses, and treatments. In fact, the system is specific to the point of being humorous; it includes codes for everything from each particular artery and vein to repair blood vessels, to burns due to water skis on fire (V91.07XD) and problems with the in-laws (Z63.1).

A new survey by the American Health Management Association (AHIMA) and eHealth Initiative (eHI) sheds light on healthcare executives’ increasingly positive stance towards ICD-10 as they become more familiar with its capacity. The survey found a wealth of support among the 454 respondents, most of whom believe ICD-10 will make managing population health and conducting clinical, health services, or translational research easier. They also believe it will improve the accuracy of claims, quality of care, and patient safety. The majority said they are far enough in the implementation process to conduct testing prior to the adoption deadline, although smaller organizations indicated they are less equipped to test.

Despite the support, some medical organizations still have their reservations. The American Medical Association President-elect Steven J. Stack says, “The AMA has long considered ICD-10 to be a massive unfunded mandate that comes at a time when physicians are trying to meet several other federal technology requirements and risk penalties if they fail to do so.” The Medical Group Management Department told Kathleen Sebelious, Secretary of Health and Human Services until 2014, “Failure to appropriately test ICD-10 could result in operational problems similar to what the Department experienced with the rollout of HealthCare.gov.” However, the Senate’s choice to postpone the ICD-10 requirement until next fall has provided extra time to test the system and train professionals.

As the healthcare community prepares for the compliance deadline, AHIMA and eHI have responded to such concerns by recommending that organizations test early and frequently; collaborate with business partners to share best practices; and mitigate risk prior to implementation with strategies such as dual coding.

Additional results from the survey include:

  • 70% of organizations are planning to conduct additional training and practice prior to the compliance date to mitigate challenges to staffing as they familiarize themselves with the new code set.

  • 62% say they are using the delay to improve clinical document integrity.

  • 59% will train more staff on ICD-10.

  • 33% of respondents are planning to fill gaps by contracting with outsourced coding companies.

  • 32% plan to purchase computer-assisted coding technology or similar tools.


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