The American Medical Association (AMA) has released a report clarifying its position on the idea of skipping ICD-10 altogether and moving straight to ICD-11 when it becomes available in an unknown number of years. While the AMA has been protesting the implementation of ICD-10 for some time, and continues to do so, the report states that moving straight to ICD-11 is “fraught with pitfalls” and “not recommended.”
During its 2012 meeting in Hawaii, the AMA restated its commitment to opposing the October 1, 2014 implementation date, contending that the switch would cost up to $80,000 per provider and drive many struggling independent physicians out of business. At that time, the association said they would explore the feasibility of waiting until the World Health Organization finalizes ICD-11 in 2015. However, the United States clinical modification will take even longer than that – up to twenty years, by many estimates – and the AMA is now acknowledging that delaying that long won’t do.
“Skipping ICD-10 will impede the ability of the industry to build on their knowledge and experience of ICD-10, which is expected to be needed for ICD-11,” the report admits. “Focusing solely on moving from ICD-9 to ICD-11 risks missing the opportunity to educate physicians and leaving them unprepared for the anticipated transition to ICD-10, which could result in significant cash flow disruptions.”
The AMA continues to have serious concerns about ICD-10, even after successfully advocating for a one-year delay from 2013 to 2014. Some experts have said that the one-year delay has done more harm than good for providers who diverted resources and effort to other IT projects during that time, and are now lagging behind. Prominent members of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) have spoken out against the AMA’s continued reluctance, arguing that ICD-9 is simply out of room, leaving ICD-10 as the necessary step in the evolution of medical coding.
CMS recently reiterated that the current ICD-10 implementation date will stand, and has told providers that they need to get ready for October of 2014 without any further discussion. “Meaningful use of electronic health records, interoperable exchange of health information, improving quality of care and clinical outcomes, improved secondary use of data for clinical research, vastly improved public health, and population health management are impossible without the 21st century standard coding system that ICD-10 will provide,” HIMSS stated in a February letter to CMS. Whether the AMA truly gets on board with the current implementation plan or not remains to be seen.