Andy Slavitt on ICD-10: 'Y2K fears didn't come to pass'

Teamwork, accountability and a focus on stakeholder concerns all have enabled a smooth transition for the healthcare industry to date from ICD-9 to ICD-10, according to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt.

In a post to The CMS Blog Feb. 24, Slavitt (pictured) touts the effort put forth by CMS and the industry at large to make the shift, although he stops short of calling it a win.

"With good implementation, we never declare victory, and are still at the ready to continually improve," Slavitt says. To that end, he says, "Y2K fears" never materialized, and the transition was one that most outside of the healthcare industry weren't even aware of.

"Instead, ICD-10 became like what actually occurred on Y2K," Slavitt says. The implementation, prior to last fall, had been delayed three times, including once by Congress.

Slavitt notes that within the first month of implementation, 100 percent of the 1,000 inquiries made to CMS regarding the transition received responses within three business days. Working with partners such as the American Medical Association, the American Hospital Association and the American Health Information Management Association, among others, was critical, he says, to ensuring resources were allocated and concerns were addressed.

"Because healthcare is still fragmented, CMS can't work alone in implementing major changes," he says.

Despite Slavitt's optimism, however, a Bloomberg BNA article notes that concerns linger, particularly about the potential for government audits. George Breen, an attorney with District of Columbia-based law firm Epstein Becker & Green, tells Bloomberg that healthcare organizations must be prepared for "aggressive payer audits, both private and public."

In addition, Medical Group Management Association Director of Health Information Technology Policy Robert Tennant tells Bloomberg that some physicians have experienced "slowed payments or denied claims" for patient screenings stemming from "faulty local coverage determination system edits."

Medicare Advantage Contractors that rejected such claims, however, have worked with providers to remedy those situations, he says.

To learn more:
- here's Slavitt's blog post
- read the Bloomberg BNA article