HHS delays ICD-10 transition until 2013

February 20, 2009
Morgan Lewis Jr.
Morgan Lewis Jr.

Coders, software firms, and physicians were granted another two years to prepare and comply with the greatly expanded set of disease diagnostic codes.

Coders, software firms, and physicians were granted another two years to prepare and comply with the greatly expanded set of disease diagnostic codes.

Originally, the Department of Health and Human Services set an October 1, 2011, deadline for the transition to ICD-10. But regulators moved the date back to October 1, 2013, based on the 3,000 public comments they received. A majority of the feedback asked for a delay in the compliance date, citing implementation costs, the need to train healthcare personnel, and to ensure ample time for testing.

ICD-10 contains 155,000 codes, compared with ICD-9, which has 17,000.

"CMS is like a drunken sailor, but the grog this time is data," he says. "Having this new data has a lot of significant health implications, but it's hugely expensive for providers."

Gaines recommends contacting software or billing vendors to find out how they're preparing and to assess whether you'll need an upgrade to your computer systems.

"Four years will seem like tomorrow when you're dealing with this," Gaines says. "We got more time, which is good, but it doesn't decrease the significance of it at all."

ICD-10 is expected to improve claims processing and payment, and, through the use of technology, assist practitioners in making treatment decisions by more precisely matching diagnoses and procedures to the appropriate code, according to HHS.