ICD-10 delayed another year

Although many hospitals worked hard to be ready for the implementation of ICD-10 coding to replace the decades-old ICD-9, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has delayed final implementation until Oct. 1, 2013.

That announcement was made as part of a proposed rule, which can be viewed at www.ofr.gov/inspection.aspx, that also requires payees to have a "unique health plan identifier," thus standardizing the many versions of differing length and makeup that payers are forced to accommodate.

Jon Elion, MD, FACC, CEO of ChartWise Medical Systems in Wakefield, RI, says he doubts the delay will help those who aren't ready. "I think it is the outpatient arena which was driving the call to wait, and insurance companies are afraid of chaos, which is what it is right now. They want order."

The value of the new codes is evident to any who have studied them. "ICD-9 is archaic," says Elion, whose company sells a computer program designed to help improve the accuracy and precision of physician notes so they include the diagnostic specificity coders want. "There are pages and pages of codes for tuberculosis, and just one single code for HIV. There is one code for coronary angioplasty in 9, 1,700 in 10. That allows you to use a different code for each location in the artery. The old coding system didn't reflect what was going on with the patient, so you can't really analyze data with what we have."

Given the emphasis on using data to improve quality, that matters, Elion says.