This is it, folks. According to National Coordinator Dr. Farzad Mostashari, there are absolutely no plans to extend the ICD-10 implementation deadline. The October 1, 2014 go-live date will stand firm, and providers will need to prepare to succeed or prepare to suffer the consequences.
Mostashari’s emphatic assertion, pronounced at the HIMSS Media ICD-10 Forum, that 2014 is the ultimate deadline echoes what CMS has been saying since March. At the HIMSS13 conference in New Orleans, CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner gave attendees her confirmation that the date would not shift again, disappointing many providers who have barely started their preparations, banking on an additional extension.
While ICD-10 was pushed back from 2013 to 2014 in order to allow more time to develop a crosswalk system between SNOMED and ICD-10, now that a framework is in place, there is little reason to keep delaying. Many experts believe that the delay was a disservice to physicians, allowing them to shove ICD-10 to the back burner and reallot resources to other health IT projects, leaving them scrambling now that the time for preparation has come.
With the date now set in stone after confirmation by both the ONC and CMS, providers will need to turn their attention to the long and arduous implementation process, which includes risk assessments, thorough internal and external testing, collaboration with business partners, and training for physicians and coders. Providers struggling with the enormous burdens are falling behind recommended guidelines, but there is still time to take advantage of resources provided by CMS, AHIMA, HIMSS, ONC, WEDI, and a variety of vendors and service providers looking to bolster the industry during this trying time.
“There’s a lot of money to be made in helping doctors get ready for ICD-10,” Mostashari said. But “at the end of the day, this massive transformation isn’t going to be about ICD-10.” It’s going to be about the improvements in healthcare that better documentation, better population health management, and a better understanding of diagnoses can provide to patients.