A new implementation date for the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases coding system (ICD-10) isn't expected to be known until after the November election, says a coding specialist. But hospitalists and others should not take that as a sign to just sit around and wait for a date.
"We're probably not going to hear anything until after the election is finished," says Brenda Edwards, CPC, CPMA, a coding and compliance specialist with Kansas Medical Mutual Insurance Co. and a trainer with AAPC. "The thing that's worrisome, though, is people think this delay we have encountered is a time to sit back and do nothing, but really we’re almost burning money by not doing anything."
An outcry from many physicians led the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to delay the planned October 2013 implementation date. No new date has been announced.
Edwards urges physicians, billing specialists, and group leaders to use the delay as an opportunity to better prepare for the implementation. She suggests checking with vendors and preparing training programs to help adjust to the new coding initiative, which will quadruple the number of billing codes to 68,000.
"Everyone at this point should still be moving forward," she says.
At the same time, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking public comment on a new version of its ICD-10 readiness assessment. Those interested in weighing in can learn more here.