HHS to put off ICD-10 implementation

It's official: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced it will delay implementation of the ICD-10 diagnostic code set beyond Oct. 1, 2013. But today's announcement did not specify for how long ICD-10's starting date would be postponed.

The statement said that HHS would "initiate a process to postpone the date by which certain health care entities have to comply with [ICD-10]." That seems to refer to a rulemaking process that includes solicitation of public comments and leads to a final rule.

Industry analysts speculated that the deadline might be put off for a year or two, according to Healthcare IT News.

The promise of an ICD-10 delay doesn't mean you should abandon your plans to prepare for the transition. We've gathered a panel of health IT experts to discuss how CMS' announcement will affect organizations' ICD-10 strategies and share implementation advice for healthcare organizations. Be sure to register for the breakfast panel discussion, which takes place at the HIMSS conference in Las Vegas from 7 to 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 22. For more information and to register, visit the ICD-10 Readiness for Hospital IT Leaders: Lessons Learned from the Trenches website. 

"We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead," said Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, in the press release.  "We are committing to work with the provider community to reexamine the pace at which HHS and the nation implement these important improvements to our health care system."

Earlier this week, Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), signaled the delay in ICD-10 implementation in remarks to a conference of the American Medical Association (AMA). Tavenner also referred to providers' administration burdens and to the challenge of adopting health information technology while moving to ICD-10.

The current transition to the 5010 transaction set, which is required for ICD-10, has also proved difficult for many providers.

The resistance to the ICD-10 timetable has come mainly from the physician community. The AMA has asked both HHS and Congress to stop ICD-10 implementation altogether. And Robert Tennant, senior policy advisor to the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), told FierceHealthIT that MGMA would not support moving forward with ICD-10 unless HHS changed its approach to implementation.

The AMA applauded the HHS announcement. "The timing of the ICD-10 transition could not be worse for physicians as they are spending significant financial and administrative resources implementing electronic health records in their practices and trying to comply with multiple quality and health information technology programs that include penalties for noncompliance," AMA President Peter Carmel said in a statement.

"Burdens on physician practices need to be reduced--not created--as the nation's healthcare system undertakes significant payment and delivery reforms. We look forward to having a productive dialogue with the administration regarding the impact of ICD-10 and decreasing unnecessary hassles for physicians so they can take care of their patients."

To learn more:
- read the HHS announcement
- see the Government Health IT story
- check out the Healthcare IT News piece

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