Hospitalists keeping an eye on the planned implementation of the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases coding system (ICD-10) can breathe a temporary sigh of relief: The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced last week that it would delay the October 2013 start date for using the new codes. No new date was given.
The decision came after the American Medical Association (AMA) launched a public campaign to persuade Congress and HHS to delay the transition to ICD-10. SHM's AMA delegate and public policy committee member Bradley Flansbaum, DO, MPH, SFHM, says SHM took no formal position on the start date but was watching the national discussion closely.
"This is a big jump," says Dr. Flansbaum, director of hospitalist services at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. "As always with administrative procedures and the legacy systems of yesteryear, a lot of institutions are pushing back."
At issue, according to AMA leaders, is that physicians already are dealing with a litany of regulatory, technological, and coding changes tied to the national healthcare reform movement. The immediate implementation quintuples the number of billing codes to 68,000, an expansion that would be an "onslaught of overlapping regulatory mandates and reporting requirements," wrote James Madara, MD, AMA executive vice president and chief executive officer, in a letter this month to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebilius (PDF).
"ICD-10 codes are important to many positive improvements in our healthcare system," Sebilius said in announcing the delay. "We have heard from many in the provider community who have concerns about the administrative burdens they face in the years ahead. We are committing to work with the provider community to re-examine the pace at which HHS and the nation implement these important improvements to our healthcare system."