While yesterday’s ICD-10 National Provider Call mostly focused on the detailed scenarios of coding with the new diagnosis and procedure standards, there was one announcement that is of interest to everyone involved in a medical practice: The ICD-10 implementation date of October 1, 2014 will not be delayed any further, according to Pat Brooks, RHIA, Senior Technical Advisor at CMS.
“There will be no more delays,” Brooks said firmly. “Those who are postponing ICD-10 implementation planning, thinking there might be additional delays, should really begin to plan implementation now. There will be no more delays to the ICD-10 implementation date.”
CMS has been repeating its confirmation for months, trying to quash any lingering hope that the scrambling industry will have more time to coordinate, test, and practice before ICD-9 goes to the chopping block. With survey after survey sounding the warning bells and experts doing their best to urge speed and communication, providers are finally getting the signal that ICD-10 is happening, and that 2014 will be year.
That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says Paul L. Weygandt, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, CCS, CPE, Vice President Physician Services at J.A. Thomas & Associates, a Nuance Company. The one year delay that pushed ICD-10 from 2013 to 2014 was more harmful than helpful to providers who took advantage of the extra time to forget all about putting money and effort into the transition. “The thought was that [the delay] would allow physicians additional time to prepare. The reality was that once the delay was instituted, most physicians quit preparing for ICD-10, thinking they had a lot more time.”
“Just like any project, the work expands to meet the timeframe allowed,” agrees Jim Daley, Director of IT Risk and Compliance at BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and the Chairman of WEDI. “And then at the end, there’s always something that still doesn’t get completed. The biggest message is not to drag your feet. The date is there. CMS says it’s not moving. You’re putting your organization at risk if you’re not moving forward.”