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ICD-10: A One Year Delay Proposal; What Does it Mean?

April 9, 2012
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The one-year delay doesn’t mean providers have more time to slack off

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has proposed a new compliance date for the transition to ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases) code set, suggesting the date be set back one year from the original Oct. 1, 2013, to Oct. 1, 2014. In February, HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the delay, appeasing the concerns from many provider-based organizations, such as the American Medical Association (AMA). While many will still debate whether or not the ICD-10 compliance delay was necessary, for most providers, it’s time to accept the probability of a one-year delay.

So what does a one-year delay mean? Well, I’m glad you asked. I recently had a chance to speak with Dave Biel, principal at New York City-based Deloitte, to talk about the different ICD-10 delay scenarios that could come up. Before yesterday’s announcement, Biel had predicted that the delay was likely either going to be one or two years, while adding the two outcomes would mean entirely different things for the industry.

The one-year delay, Biel notesd, gives organizations that are on track for the original compliance date, an opportunity to identify and focus on areas where they may have some weaknesses. This is even the case for organizations that are moving along nicely, he says. For payers, he used the example of focusing on testing and business readiness approaches, as what they could do with a one-year delay.

“The one-year delay represents the opportunity to shore up the areas of your program that were potentially weak. Using testing again as an example, it is an opportunity to create a truly robust approach to test the company under ICD-10, leverage trading partners in a pilot environment and focus on the risky areas that require time and attention,” Biel says.

For those organizations that weren’t on track for that October 2013 date, or have yet to start, Biel says the one-year delay isn’t an opportunity to delay everything a year. Instead, it’s a chance to get everything done on time and make use of this extra time.  Biel says if you haven’t gotten your impact assessment done yet, well you should probably stop reading this and get to it.

Remember when your teacher gave you an extension on that big assignment in high school? Well, Biel is saying, don’t wait until the night before it’s due to complete it. In health IT, your parents can’t bail you out of a jam!

The two-year scenario would have been a lot different. As Biel notes, major changes to the operating and systems landscape, he says, could force patient-care leaders to determine what their future state will be before making detailed plans for their ICD-10 transition. In a two-year delay, providers could also run into an issue where the ICD-10 transition investment funds are temporarily shelved.

With that in mind, the one-year delay seems like the best-case scenario for those who were on track. For those who weren’t on track, it’s uncertain whether or not it will be enough time to be ready.  When we talked, Biel seemed to think it would be.

I’m interested to hear what our readers think? Is a one-year delay better, or would you prefer two years? Or did you have something else in mind for the delay? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.