AHIMA Calls for Timely ICD-10 Implementation

Patience might be lauded in many situations but the American Health Information Management Association is not finding much virtue in the ICD-10 delay.

AHIMA filed a comment letter May 9 with the Department of Health and Human Services in response to a section of a proposed rule that calls for a change to the compliance date for the ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS medical data code sets.

In its letter, AHIMA recommends there be no delay in the ICD-10 compliance deadline.

“ICD-9 is antiquated and no longer adequately meets the challenge of a 21st century healthcare system,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon. “ICD-10 should be implemented in a timely manner, and AHIMA is ready to continue assisting the healthcare community to prepare for the transition.  We also encourage advance testing of the ICD-10 codes to be sure there are no further delays in the implementation deadline.”

The letter calls attention to the classification system as more than a claims and billing mechanism. According to AHIMA, the ICD-10 codes can be used for communicating issues of severity and quality, as well as to provide better healthcare for the individual patient and the community. For instance, AHIMA noted, the ICD-10 codes significantly expand the ability to document and detail incidences of domestic violence. As a result, health officials can enhance detection and treatment, and develop more proactive steps to prevent domestic violence.

“ICD-10 is the foundation for other critical national healthcare initiatives such as meaningful use, value-based purchasing, payment reform, quality reporting and accountable care organizations,” said Dan Rode, AHIMA vice president for advocacy and policy. “Without ICD-10, the value of these other efforts is greatly diminished.”

In addition, a delay of more than one year would cause additional confusion for colleges and universities as to what they should be teaching, AHIMA executives noted. Students already have been trained in ICD-10 and are forced to use ICD-9-CM when they enter the workforce.