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HIMSS12: On Physicians’ Backlash to ICD-10 Compliance

February 20, 2012
by Gabriel Perna
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AHIMA’s Sue Bowman gives her thoughts on physicians’ issues with ICD-10 implementation and discusses why ICD-11 isn’t just around the corner

Most of the talk at the early portion of the ICD-10 pre-conference symposium on Feb. 20 at HIMSS12 in Las Vegas was about training, implementation, and vendor optimization. However, for a brief moment, the recent backlash from the Washington D.C.-based American Medical Association (AMA) on the ICD-10 implementation came up in discussion during a Q&A portion of the symposium.

Sue Bowman, RHIA, CCS, director of coding policy and compliance at the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), took a question from the audience which asked about the physicians’ side of ICD-10 implementation. Bowman had an interesting response as to why there was so much backlash from physicians. First, she noted, that in a lot of cases physicians were involved in the process and have helped develop ICD-10 code-sets.  She then acknowledged that there were those who were critical of the ICD-10 implementation process and surmised why that might be. 

“I think so physicians are just overwhelmed and frustrated by what they see as more and more government regulation put on their hands,” Bowman said. “It’s not even necessarily about ICD-10, it’s more like it’s the last straw. That’s kind of what I’m sensing.”

Recently, after heavy protests from the AMA, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen G. Sebelius announced that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will delay the date in which healthcare entities have to comply with ICD-10. Originally, that compliance date was supposed to be Oct. 1, 2013. A new compliance date has yet to be set.

The AMA had expressed numerous criticisms of the Oct. 1 compliance date and says the “ICD-10 transition could not be worse for physicians as they are spending significant financial and administrative resources.” Bowman’s comments are especially intriguing given her association with AHIMA, which came out with several indirect responses to the AMA, urging the government to move forward with the original compliance date.  

Along with the above comments, Bowman also addressed another hot ICD-10 related topic during her speech at the symposium: ICD-11. Several media reports indicated that the delay of the ICD-10 compliance date meant the government could simply skip over ICD-10 and move right into ICD-11, which unlike ICD-10, is a coding set that will have been created in the 21st century. Bowman essentially dismissed that notion saying that it’s unlikely the U.S. would simply implement ICD-11 “off the shelf.”

While she said she didn’t think the transition from ICD-10 to ICD-11 would take as long as ICD-9 to ICD-10, she said the U.S. will have to assess ICD-11 and make modifications for the country’s own specific needs. For ICD-10, this process took eight years. Thus, she said the move to ICD-11 would likely come several years after 2015 when it will be ready for use globally from the World Health Organization.

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