Healthcare organizations steam ahead with ICD-10 preparations, including hiring, despite delay of the new diagnosis and billing codes for at least a year.
Easy-to-Mock ICD-10 Diagnosis Codes
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The transition to the ICD-10 standard for diagnosis and billing codes remains a big factor in the health IT jobs market, despite Congressional action delaying implementation of the program for at least a year.
The demand for technical, clinical, and project management skills needed for the conversion from ICD-9 to ICD-10 have been in high demand for the past year, and the legislative delay "hasn't seemed to decrease the need a whole lot," says Cherie Lester, senior healthcare IT recruiter with the Holland Square Group.
"ICD-10 is the driving factor right now -- even though those lovely people in Washington gave us another year, we haven't slowed down," says Deborah Graham, senior programmer/analyst at UMass Memorial Health Care.
Graham and others were interviewed for a coming report on the InformationWeek Healthcare IT Salary Survey, and many survey participants volunteered that their organizations are steaming ahead almost as if the deadline for implementation were still Oct. 1, 2014.
Earlier this month President Obama signed a delay in the mandate into law -- as one sentence in a broader bill averting a scheduled decrease in Medicare reimbursements. Decried by some as a triumph of politics over health data quality, the change arrived at an awkward time for health system project managers who had been working hard to get ready, with systems changes and training programs already in motion.
"The Secretary of Health and Human Services may not, prior to October 1, 2015, adopt ICD-10 code sets as the standard for codes sets," reads the pertinent section of the bill.
Current LinkedIn job postings asking for ICD-10 skills.
A brief statement atop the CMS web page for the ICD-10 program says, "CMS is examining the implications of the ICD-10 provision and will provide guidance to providers and stakeholders soon." It's not 100% clear that the program will move forward with a new implementation date of Oct. 1, 2015. Although it's assumed to be the most likely outcome, CMS could take a radical action, such as punting until the arrival of the ICD-11 version of the standard currently under development. Aside from a few reassuring comments from a CMS official who spoke Wednesday at the ICD-10 Summit hosted by the American Health Information Management Association, the agency has left healthcare organizations guessing.
Graham hopes those organizations that have been marching toward an Oct. 1 deadline will be able to go forward with ICD-10. "They can't require it, but there's nothing in the law says they can't beg us for it." In other
David F. Carr oversees InformationWeek's coverage of government and healthcare IT. He previously led coverage of social business and education technologies and continues to contribute in those areas. He is the editor of Social Collaboration for Dummies (Wiley, Oct. 2013) and ... View Full Bio