Clinging on to the current outdated ICD-9 code system until ICD-11 is ready for use at some unspecified point in the future is akin to the endless idle loitering of Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s classic play Waiting for Godot, says the Coalition for ICD-10 in a new opinion piece. After waiting more than twenty years for the implementation of ICD-10, the healthcare industry simply cannot afford another two or three decades for the newest code set to be finalized and ready for use.
“Based on the World Health Organization’s (WHO) current timeline, ICD-11 is expected to be finalized and released in 2017,” the commentary explains. “For the US, however, that date is the beginning, not the end. As with every WHO version of the ICD codes, ICD-11 would need to be adapted to meet the detailed payment policy, quality assessment and other regulatory requirements of US stakeholders.” The country could be waiting until 2041 for the entire pre-implementation process to be completed, the Coalition adds.
Meanwhile, the healthcare industry will be forced to continue to use a significantly outdated code set that cannot account for many emerging health threats or new advances in technologies, diagnoses, and procedures. That’s just fine with representatives from the American Medical Association (AMA), whose House of Delegates voted to reject an internal report noting that implementing the changes inherent in ICD-10 would provide an important foundation for the eventual adoption of ICD-11. The report concluded that skipping ICD-10 all together was “not recommended” as a viable course of action, yet the AMA continues its resistance to the ICD-10 codes – and the Coalition continues to fight back against their reticence.
“The US simply cannot wait decades to replace ICD-9, a code set that was developed nearly 40 years ago,” the Coalition states. “US healthcare data is deteriorating while at the same time demand is increasing for high-quality data to support healthcare initiatives such as the Meaningful Use EHR Incentive Program, value-based purchasing, and other initiatives aimed at improving quality and patient safety and decreasing costs.”
The AMA argues that the expense of ICD-10 implementation is overwhelming for smaller physicians struggling keep their doors open, pinning the costs at anywhere from $50,000 to $225,000 for a small provider. Despite contradictions from AHIMA, the cost of the switch has been a major selling point for opponents.
However, after two one-year delays, the tide seems to be turning in support of ICD-10. Not only is the Coalition growing, but Congress has stepped in to enforce the idea of a 2015 due date. Will the wait for Godot be over in October? The Coalition would certainly like to see an end to the “unending barrage of excuses” and continual delays.
“Waiting for ICD-11 is simply not a viable option,” the blog post concludes. “The absurdity of the endless waiting in Waiting for Godot culminates in frustration: “Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! Let us do something, while we have the chance!” Yes, the wait needs to be over. It’s time to stop wasting time. It’s time to get ICD-10 implemented.”