Hospital CIO wants two-year postponement of ICD-10

The government's proposed one-year delay of ICD-10 implementation from Oct. 1, 2013 to Oct. 1, 2014 has elicited a great deal of reaction from the healthcare industry. While physicians want a longer postponement, hospitals have mostly approved of the time frame proposed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

But in a recent interview with Becker's Hospital Review, Michael O'Rourke, senior vice president and CIO of Englewood, Colo.-based Catholic Health Initiatives, said that a two-year delay would be preferable.

O'Rourke explained that the 76-hospital enterprise, which includes more than 2,000 employed physicians, is currently involved in a huge health IT initiative that includes a transition to ambulatory care electronic health records. Meeting the Meaningful Use deadlines and building health information exchanges, he said, "are major undertakings. Now, add right into the middle of that the requirements of ICD-10, and you have a very daunting situation."

He cited the need to retrain coders and to incorporate ICD-10 into the clinical documentation of physicians. Noting that this is a "massive and costly endeavor," he added, "You can't make mistakes on this."

O'Rourke noted that Catholic Health Initiatives is still working through the "disaster" of the transition to the 5010 transaction set. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, he says, "weren't ready to take the forms, and they couldn't filter out the information. We could not collect many millions of dollars in reimbursements because they couldn't process the forms. That was a lesson about going out with something this complicated too soon. It could be apocalyptic."

Some other CIOs have opposed any postponement in the ICD-10 deadline. In an interview with FierceHealthIT last February, after HHS had said it would "re-examine" the original 2013 deadline, Drexel DeFord, CIO of Seattle Children's Hospital and chair of the College of Health Information Management Executives (CHIME), said he was disappointed in the move at a time when healthcare organizations should be moving ahead with ICD-10. 

Later, however, CHIME said it was relieved that the government had settled on a specific time frame for ICD-10.

Albert Oriol, CIO of Rady Children's Hospital in San Diego and a member of CHIME's policy steering committee, told FierceHealthIT, "It's good that we have a target to shoot for. Having that new target allows those of us who are in relatively decent shape [on the ICD-10 transition] to see what things can be slowed down to focus on other priorities, and where we need to keep the pedal to the metal to make a better use of our resources."

To learn more:
- read the Becker's Hospital Review article
- see the CMS announcement on the ICD-10 postponement

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