ICD-10: World Health Organization’s vision for better healthcare

A curse or a privilege?
By Diana Manos
12:20 PM
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Probably some of the most surprising and significant health IT news coming from the federal government in recent months was the declaration from National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari, MD, that there would be no more extensions for ICD-10.
After one delay - even though many have hoped for a second - the new deadline will stick: The U.S. will make its transition to the upgraded code sets by Oct. 1, 2014.
Amid the cacophony of health IT demands already being placed on physicians and hospitals, many are hoping ICD-10 will just go away. Meanwhile, industry experts are preaching to deaf ears, advising to test often and implement early. Don't put off the transition off any longer, they say.
On June 17, a new study by the eHealth Alliance and the American Health Information Management Association revealed a lack of communication around the benefits and value to be found in the new ICD-10 code set, which has been expanded to improve the quality of care, research, and surveillance with more accurate and specific data.
The survey found that one-in-four survey respondents (26 percent) reported that they had no specific goals to leverage ICD-10 other than for claims processing.
According to the World Health Organization, the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management and clinical purposes. It's meant to be used to analyze and improve population health, not just for billing. According to WHO, it is the foundation for identifying health trends and statistics, globally. It allows the world to compare and share health information using a common language.
ICD-10 was endorsed by the forty-third World Health Assembly in May 1990, and WHO member states began using it in 1994. According to WHO, it is cited in more than 20,000 scientific articles and used by more than 100 countries around the world.
This makes it something of a wonder that the U.S., a leader in healthcare, is still behind the curve, still not participating in the most updated version of this common language.
Perhaps the answer lies in the bottom line. Approximately 59 percent of clinic and physician practices expect a significant decline in revenue, while one-in-four hospitals are unsure of the financial impact, the eHealth study showed.