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4/25/2014
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ICD-10 Remains High Priority Despite Delay

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
Easy-to-Mock ICD-10 Diagnosis Codes
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

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.

[In the market for a new job? Read EHR Jobs Boom: 8 Hot Health IT Roles.]

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.
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

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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

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David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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5/1/2014 | 5:09:37 PM
New ICD-10 date officially Oct. 1, 2015
Just received this brief statement from CMS, clarifying the new target date after Congress delayed the implemention of ICD-10 diagnosis codes for at least a year.

On April 1, 2014, the Protecting Access to Medicare Act of 2014 (PAMA) (Pub. L. No. 113-93) was enacted, which said that the Secretary may not adopt ICD-10 prior to October 1, 2015. Accordingly, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services expects to release an interim final rule in the near future that will include a new compliance date that would require the use of ICD-10 beginning October 1, 2015. The rule will also require HIPAA covered entities to continue to use ICD-9-CM through September 30, 2015.


This lays to rest speculation that the date might be pushed out even farther than a year from the original 2014 date (or that there would be some more radical resolution, like skipping ICD-10 and waiting for ICD-11).
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
4/28/2014 | 10:47:07 AM
Hitting the brakes on ICD-10?
After I filed this story, I heard back from another healthcare IT contact who agreed with the premise that it makes sense to steam ahead with ICD-10 work except that one of the execs responsible for budgeting the work was pushing to cut back.

Clarification from CMS would still be helpful in understanding how much of a priority this deserves.
Alison_Diana
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Alison_Diana,
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4/25/2014 | 11:07:33 AM
Dodged a Bullet
Some healthcare organizations dodged a bullet when ICD-10 was delayed (again). Procrastinators and those overwhelmed by the volume and cost of mandates breathed a sigh of relief, but anyone who relaxes during this respite is foolish. There is going to be little excuse for any organization to be ill-prepared for ICD-10 if its 2015 isn't changed. Organizations should create their own internal deadline, one that's earlier than the government-imposed date, and aim for that. Next year brings its own set of deadlines and challenges. Why not wrap up ICD-10 by the close of 2014 and be done with it?!
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