Kaiser CEO on why ICD-10 drives him 'crazy'

George Halvorson, whose Kaiser Permanente hospital system and medical group spent more than $4 billion to adopt a fully integrated system of electronic health records, said the upcoming deployment of ICD-10 is anathema to his organization.

"I hate ICD-10. It drives me crazy," Kaiser's CEO remarked during a question and answer session after delivering a keynote speech at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's Annual National Institute on Monday. "It adds so little value, and I can't find any therapeutic upside."

ICD-10, the massive expansion of procedure coding, will roll out to providers in 2013. During Halvorson's presentation, he noted that Kaiser's rollout of an EHR system is saving about $3 billion in annual costs by making it more efficient to treat chronic conditions and combat sepsis, which kills tens of thousands of hospital patients a year.

Halvorson said the use of ICD-10 is a response to running out of current diagnosis-related group (DRG) codes rather the a logical expansion based on clinical data. "They're putting the current codes into certain buckets to expand them, and they've run out of room," he said, adding that it is more suited to work with a paper-based medical record system.

A Kaiser spokesperson said the system still plans to deploy ICD-10. "I think we're required to," said communications officer Ravi Poorsina.

However, Halvorson said he already is looking toward the ICD-11 iteration, in the hopes it might be better integrated with electronic health records. The American Medical Association has recently advocated a quicker move toward ICD-11, Government Health IT News noted.

For more:
- here's info on Halvorson's HFMA ANI address
- Read the Government Health IT News article