CMS intentions for ICD-10 draw kudos

By Tom Sullivan
07:31 AM
Computers and code

A new ICD-10 deadline is almost upon the healthcare industry.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said late Thursday it expects the Department of Health and Human Services to "release an interim final rule in the near future that will include a new compliance date that would require the use of ICD-10 beginning October 1, 2015."
That statement, while short of an official announcement, has already drawn praise.

"AHIMA applauds the announcement of an expected interim final rule with an October 1, 2015 implementation date for ICD-10-CM/PCS," the American Health Information Management Association said in a prepared statement late Thursday.

[See also: ICD-10 delay rattles industry groups.]

Results First Consulting founder Joe Lavelle concurred.

"I applaud CMS for getting a date out there for discussion to quiet the people that say they have to have a date to proceed," Lavelle explained to Government Health IT, sister publication of Healthcare IT News. 

Acknowledging that some health entities have invested considerable personnel and financial resources into the conversion, AHIMA offered suggestions.

"During the coming year, we recommend that the industry keep its momentum going, continuing to prepare by strengthening clinical documentation improvement programs, working with vendors on transition readiness, training coders and other stakeholders, and proceeding with dual-coding," it advised.  

Lavelle will be making similar points to his customers as well.

"As for me, I am going back to my clients and telling them we have three projects: clinical documentation improvement, big data with new CDI data and the 'Y2K' part of ICD-10," Lavelle added, "and we will prioritize in that order."

[See also: ICD-10 delay dismays prepared vendors.]

Indeed, once a new deadline is formally set a number of the old ICD-10 challenges will come back to the fore, including gaining physician buy-in, IT vendor's general lack of readiness to support the seven-digit codes, and internal as well as external end-to-end testing.

While some healthcare organizations and industry associations, including AHIMA, the Coalition for ICD-10 and Premier, publicly urged CMS to nail down October 1, 2015, as the compliance deadline, CMS thus far has said it "is examining the implications of the ICD-10 provision and will provide guidance to providers and stakeholders soon."

Whether that statement remaining on the CMS website on May 1 means the 2015 date is not entirely official yet, well, that remains to be seen.