Viewpoint: Approach of ICD-11 makes transition to ICD-10 unnecessary

March 25, 2013

Medical Economics readers discuss ICD-10 and the fact that there's no reason to implement it with ICD-11 around the corner.

Approach of ICD-11 makes transition to ICD-10 Unnecessary

In his article “ICD-10: Can physicians stave off or delay implementation?” (February 10, 2013),  Senior Editor Jeffrey Bendix, MA, outlines the mandate by the government to use ICD-10, and that the deadline has been pushed from 2013 back to 2014. He points out the opposition by medical groups related to cost and changes needed, and that payers and others are moving ahead. He points out that the ICD-10 has been used in Europe for 10 years, which implies that we Americans are and have been backward for not using ICD-10 also. The implication is that our government is helping our country out by mandating the same system the rest of the world uses.

Mr. Bendix does not say that ICD-11 comes out in 2015 and will correct many of the problems of ICD-10. So why go to all that expense and trouble now?  The “rest of the world” that uses ICD-10 will switch to ICD-11, as they did from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

The AMA and some other physician groups are  fighting ICD-10 with the goal of skipping over ICD-10 and going straight to ICD-11 in 2015.  At a time when so much is changing (Mr. Bendix covered this very well), why make everyone learn a new coding language and style of documenting medical care that is already dead and being replaced in a year?

Stanley Sharp, MD

Kansas City, Missouri

ICD-10 won’t improve patient care

Jeffrey Bendix’s article on ICD-10 actually makes a case for not implementing it. He mentions that European countries have been using ICD-10 since the 1980s. They have documented no decreases in morbidity or mortality solely related to ICD-10 implementation, however.

Mr. Bendix’s article points out that a finger fracture now has to be coded not only as to which finger but to which phalanx of that finger. Such extreme specificity will not result in improved quality of care for that fracture; after all, no one has ever healed or improved just because their coding was more specific.

Mr. Bendix also inadvertently points out that there will be a huge increase in the cost of care delivery, costs that eventually will be paid by our patients. In my case, as a solo family physician for more than 30 years, the cost to implement ICD-10, according to the article, is estimated to be $83,290. Couple that with the $250,000 average first-year cost for installing an electronic health record [system], and you can understand why I have gone to a cash practice, accepting no insurance.

Now I once again work just for my patients by eliminating all the leaches sucking money out of healthcare and driving up costs.

Gary Yarborough, MD

Parsons, Kansas