Survey: ICD-10 delay could be 'catastrophic'

A one-year ICD-10 delay would be "costly, but manageable," but a two-year delay could be "catastrophic," according to respondents of a recent survey conducted by data exchange technology developer Edifecs. What's more, 64 percent of survey respondents say that the delay will do nothing to improve readiness for the implementation, and more than three-fourths say that the delay will hinder other healthcare reform efforts.

Nearly half (49 percent) of all respondents believe that for every year the deadline is delayed, their budgets will increase between 11 and 25 percent. No respondents think that costs will go down due to the delay.

"While there may be a few entities that can truly use the additional time to improve their readiness, the majority of respondents believe this will not be the case," the survey's authors write. "Instead, costs are likely to spiral higher, and valuable resources may be lost as the industry waits for the outcome of CMS' process to determine whether the deadline will slide."

The survey consists of responses from 50 senior healthcare professionals who attended the 2012 ICD-10 Summit, hosted by Edifecs last month in Cape Coral, Fla. Each of the respondents is "actively involved in their organization's ICD-10 transition," according to the survey's authors.

The findings echo what health executives on FierceHealthIT's executive breakfast panel said at last week's Health Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference in Las Vegas. Carole McEwan, ICD-10 migration project manager at St. Louis-based SSM Health Care, said that for her organization, a delay of a year would be a major loss of momentum.

"It's taken a year-and-a-half to build up the speed and attention ... and now I'm losing it," McEwan said. "That's critical for us." She continued, "[Other groups at the hospital] want to pull my people away, and I can't afford to let that happen."

According to Baskar Mohan, director of healthcare practice at IT consulting firm Virtusa, there are several reasons why implementing ICD-10 now would be beneficial. Writing for Government Health IT, Mohan says that, among other things, the 5010 transition will make it easier to "implement ICD-10 data collection capabilities with the front end claims processing to enable submission of ICD-9 or ICD-10 data." He also says that delaying training of ICD-10 will only make it more difficult when it comes time to prepare for the ICD-11 transition.

To learn more:
- here's the Edifecs survey (.pdf)
- read this Government Health IT commentary
- here's coverage of our HIMSS breakfast event