Hospital CIOs rip ICD-10 delay in SGR patch legislation

Hospital CIOs are not happy that lawmakers may push out ICD-10 implementation another year, should the Senate approve the latest proposed legislation to delay physician Medicare reimbursement cuts under the sustainable growth rate formula; the House approved the bill in a last-minute voice vote early Thursday.

Not only did the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives express discord with the bill in a statement released Wednesday, so, too, did several CIOs on FierceHealthIT's Editorial Advisory Board when asked for their thoughts on a potential delay.

"Too many investments in time and money have gone in on this one to just say 'nope, not doing it,'" Roger Neal (pictured right), VP and CIO at Duncan (Okla.) Regional Hospital, told FierceHealthIT via email. "Isn't it funny how healthcare gets slammed for being too expensive, yet we spend billions making shifts like this, [only] to turn around and have the rug yanked out from under us, which wastes billions in the process?"

Linda Reed, VP and CIO at Morristown, N.J.-based Atlantic Health System, agreed, telling FierceHealthIT via email that "kicking the can down the road" will impact CIOs' plans to move forward with other projects.

"From a hospital perspective, enough already," Reed (pictured left) said. "We've spent the money, done the work and started all the training. From a physician practice perspective, I'm not sure giving another year would make any difference in readiness. The extension from 2013 to 2014 didn't."

Theresa Meadows (pictured right), senior VP and CIO at Cook Children's Health Care System in Fort Worth, Texas, expanded on Reed's point about training, saying that another significant component of ICD-10 lies in the contributions made by health information management partners. "Delay would only require re-training and continued investment in additional resources to ensure what has been learned sticks," she told FierceHealthIT via email.

Several CIOs said they would prefer a one-year delay to Meaningful Use Stage 2 over another delay of ICD-10.

"At some point, this bridge has to be crossed," Stephen Stewart, CIO at Henry County Health Center in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, told FierceHealthIT.

Added Indranil Ganguly (pictured left), VP and CIO at JFK Health System in Edison, N.J.: "Meaningful Use Stage 2 is a separate issue, but that is where the current pain is, and a risk for missing out on the incentives that many organizations need to help subsidize the significant investments in technology that are being made."

Meanwhile, Todd Richardson, senior VP and CIO at Aspirus Inc., in Wausau, Wisc., proposed skipping ICD-10 altogether should the Senate vote yes on the measure.

"If there is a delay, we should move all the way to ICD-11 when we end up transitioning," he said.