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The Real Problem with ICD-10 Delay or ICD-10 #NoDelay

Posted on December 10, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today, AHIMA put together a really interesting Twitter campaign (they called a Twitter chat, but it wasn’t as much of a chat as a Twitter campaign in my book) where they tweeted about the need for no more delay to ICD-10. You can see what they did by checking out the #nodelay and #ICD10Matters hashtags. They were hitting a number of congressmen really hard. No doubt, their social media people will have seen these messages. We’ll see if that trickles up to the senators and representatives themselves.

On the opposite side is the AMA which is pushing congress for a 2 year delay to ICD-10. Modern Healthcare just published a story that the ICD-10 delay bill was “dead on arrival.” However, that seemed like a link bait headline. When you read the actual story, they suggest that the ICD-10 bill might be dead when it comes to the lame duck session of congress (now through the end of the year). However, it doesn’t address whether congress will choose to incorporate another ICD-10 delay into the SGR fix in 2015 like they did in 2014. That story is still waiting to be played out.

The real problem with all of this is a topic that we’ve discussed over and over here on EMR and EHR. It applied to meaningful use and EHR certification and now it applies just as well to the implementation of ICD-10. No doubt there are proponents and opponents on each side of the ICD-10 debate. Personally, I’ve seen both arguments and I think both sides have an interesting case to make. I don’t think the decision is as clear cut as either sides makes it out to be. If you delay ICD-10 many organizations will be hurt. If you move forward with ICD-10 many organizations will be hurt.

Uncertainty around ICD-10 is the real problem.

What’s worse than going ahead with ICD-10? Uncertainty about whether ICD-10 is going forward or not. What’s worse than delaying ICD-10? Uncertainty about whether ICD-10 is going forward or not. ICD-10 uncertainty is costing healthcare much more than either an ICD-10 delay or a hard and fast ICD-10 go live date.

The US government (yes, that includes all parts of the US government) needs to make a firm decision on whether ICD-10 should be implemented or not. If ICD-10 is going to be the US medical coding future, then we should bite the bullet and implement ICD-10 on schedule. Another delay won’t improve that implementation. If ICD-10 is not of value, then let’s offer some certainty and do away with it completely. Either way, the certainty will be more valuable than our current state of uncertainty.

I’ll admit that I’m not an expert on DC politics. However, I’ve wondered if there’s something the US government could do that would provide this certainty. In 2014, CMS had done everything they could do to provide that certainty. It turns out, they didn’t have the power to make such a promise. Congress undercut them and they got left with egg on their face.

Could Congress pass a bill that would either set the ICD-10 implementation in stone or banish ICD-10 forever? Would that provide healthcare organizations the certainty they need to plan for ICD-10? Or would they just be afraid that the President would do some executive order to delay ICD-10 again? Is there anything that can be done to communicate a clear message on ICD-10’s future?

My gut tells me that if ICD-10 isn’t delayed in the SGR Fix bill next year, then ICD-10 will probably go forward. You’ll notice that probably was the best I could say. Can anyone offer more certainty on the future of ICD-10? I don’t think they can and that’s the problem.

What I do know is that ICD-10 uncertainty is costing healthcare a lot!

If I Were AHIMA and Wanted to Ensure ICD-10 Wasn’t Delayed Again

Posted on September 12, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I’ve been working on my schedule for the AHIMA conference happening at the end of the month (officially I think they call it the AHIMA Convention). As I’ve looked over the various meetings and topics that will be discussed, I’m once again faced with the ICD-10 discussion.

I’ll admit that the ICD-10 discussion feels a little bit like the movie Groundhog Day. A little reminder of the movie (man I need to rewatch it):

Much like Bill Murray, I think we’re entering the same ICD-10 cycle that we were in last year. People warning about the impending implementation of ICD-10. People talking about the need to train on ICD-10. The impact of ICD-10 on revenue, productivity, software, etc etc etc. If it feels like we’ve been through these topics before, it’s because we have.

I previously posted an important question, “What Would Make Us Not Delay ICD-10 in 2015?” Unfortunately, I think the answer to that question is that right now nothing has changed. All of the reasons that someone would want ICD-10 to go forward and all of the reasons that ICD-10 should be delayed are exactly the same. I’d love to hear from people that disagree with me. Although, so far people have only come up with the same reasons that were the same last year.

That doesn’t mean it’s a lost cause for organizations like AHIMA that really want ICD-10 to go forward. They could do something that would change the environment and help ensure that ICD-10 actually happens in 2015. (Note: When we’re talking about DC and congress, nothing is certain, but I think this strategy would change the discussion.)

If I were AHIMA and wanted to push forward the ICD-10 agenda, I’d leverage your passionate community and be sure that the story of ICD-10 was told far and wide. The goal would have to be to create the narrative that delaying ICD-10 would cause irreparable harm to healthcare and to millions of people.

I imagine a series of videos with HIM people telling their stories on the impact of ICD-10 delays. These stories aren’t hard to find. Just start by looking at the AHIMA LinkedIn thread about the 2014 ICD-10 delay. Then engage the AHIMA community in social media and provide them the tools to spread these videos, their own stories, and other pro ICD-10 messages far and wide. Don’t underestimate the power of storytelling.

Also, you have to change the conversation about the impact of ICD-10. Far too many proponents of ICD-10 just talk about how it’s going to impact them individually. These individual stories are powerful when creating a movement, but the people in Washington hear those stories all day every day. They don’t usually change decisions based on a few heartbreaking stories. So, you have to illustrate to those in Washington that the impact of another ICD-10 delay is going to cause some harm to the healthcare system. This is not an easy task.

A well organized effort by AHIMA and other organizations could really gather steam. Enough calls, messages, and letters into Congress and they have to take note. It’s a feature of the way their systems are done. Although, a few responses won’t work. It has to be a real grassroots wave of people talking about how delaying ICD-10 is going to cause major issues. The biggest challenge to this is that it was delayed this year and what was the impact?

Of course, the other option is to hire a lobbyist. They’re going to tell the same story, but in a much more direct way. If AHIMA and other ICD-10 proponents don’t work hard to change the narrative of ICD-10 through a lobbyist or a grass roots campaign, then I don’t see any reason why ICD-10 won’t be delayed again. The good part is that any effort to do this will likely be supported and amplified by organizations like CMS. The bad part is that other organizations like the AMA are fighting the opposite battle. However, being quiet means that the other side wins by default.

EHR Post Acquisition, 2014 Certified, ICD-10 and the Amazing Charts Future with John Squire, President and COO

Posted on April 30, 2014 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I had the chance to sit down and interview John Squire, President and COO of Amazing Charts. I was interested to learn about the transition Amazing Charts has experienced after being purchased by Pri-Med and the departure of Amazing Charts Founder, Jonathan Bertman. Plus, I wanted to learn why Amazing Charts wasn’t yet 2014 Certified and their plans to make it a reality. We also talk about the value of meaningful use and the ICD-10 delay. Then, we wrap up with a look at where Amazing Charts is headed in the future.

Check out EHR videos for all of my EHR and Healthcare IT interview videos and be sure to subscribe to the Healthcare Scene youtube channel.

No Shortage of Excitement (This Week) in Healthcare IT

Posted on March 28, 2014 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

When I began contemplating the subject of this blog earlier in the week, I thought I’d make room for thoughts on recent improvements in EMR adoption in the small practice and physician community, and the general state of optimism and enthusiasm some op-ed pieces would have us believe is finally taking hold of the industry. But then came along the potential delay of ICD-10, which also begs a quick comment or two.

A bill that included an effort to delay the ICD-10 compliance date a full year was passed, but only after partisan drama over the fact that legislators received the proposed bill just a day before the vote on it was to take place. I tend to turn to AHIMA on ICD-10 matters, and its official stance is fairly obvious:

ahimaicd10tweet

Its reasoning is similar to that of the Coalition for ICD-10, which in a letter to the CMS, stated: “ … any further delay or deviation from the October 1, 2014, compliance date would be disruptive and costly for health care delivery innovation, payment reform, public health, and health care spending. By allowing for greater coding accuracy and specificity, ICD-10 is key to collecting the information needed to implement health care delivery innovations such as patient-centered medical homes and value-based purchasing.

“Moreover, any further delays in adoption of ICD-10 in the U.S. will make it difficult to track new and emerging public health threats. The transition to ICD-10 is time sensitive because of the urgent need to keep up with tracking, identifying, and analyzing new medical services and treatments available to patients. Continued reliance on the increasingly outdated and insufficient ICD-9 coding system is not an option when considering the risk to public health.”

AHIMA has even started a campaign to encourage its constituents to email their senators to urge them to also vote no when it comes to delaying ICD-10. At the time of this writing, the Senate vote is not yet scheduled. I don’t feel the need to restate my support of no further delay. You can read it here.

With regard to the other hot news items of the week, I was intrigued by the findings of the SK&A survey, which found that the EMR adoption rate for single physician practices grew 11.4%. One reason SK&A gave in the survey analysis was due to the “availability of more than 450 different solutions to fit their practice needs, size and budget.” Call me crazy, but I’m willing to bet that many solutions will not exist in the next three to five years thanks to market consolidation. What will these physicians do when their EMR vendor closes up shop? Time will tell, I suppose.

Will Healthcare.gov Experience Prompt HHS to Delay ICD-10?

Posted on November 4, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I don’t think it will be news to anyone reading this that HHS is getting hammered for their implementation of Healthcare.gov. Sebelius congressional testimony was brutal. Certainly the botched implementation of Healthcare.gov will have long lasting impacts on all future HHS IT projects.

While not purely an IT project, I wonder if the experience of Healthcare.gov will have an impact on the ICD-10 implementation. Will HHS be gun shy after the Healthcare.gov debacle that they’ll delay ICD-10 to avoid another one?

My gut reaction is that I don’t think this will happen, but it’s worthy of consideration.

On October 1, 2014, HHS’s IT isn’t ready to accept ICD-10, then you can read the headline already: “HHS Botches Another IT Project.” For those of us that work in healthcare IT, we know that ICD-10 has deep IT implications. Not the least of which will be CMS being ready to accept the ICD-10 codes. While you’d think this is a simple change, I assure you that it is not. Plus, if CMS isn’t ready for this, a lot of angry doctors and hospitals will emerge. It will be a major cash flow issue for them.

We still have almost a year for HHS to get this right. Plus, HHS has had years to plan for this change so they shouldn’t have any IT challenges. Although, if they do have IT challenges this extended time frame will damage them even more. The article will say they had plenty of time and they still couldn’t implement it properly.

With the comparison, there are also plenty of reasons why ICD-10 is very different than Healthcare.gov. In many ways, ICD-10 is a project implemented by companies outside of HHS as opposed to a project run by HHS. First, I think it’s unlikely that HHS won’t have their side ready for ICD-10. Second, their part of ICD-10 is very little compared to what has to be done by outside payers, hospitals, and doctors offices.

If ICD-10 has issues it will likely be seen as the payers or healthcare organizations not being ready as opposed to HHS. That’s not to say that HHS won’t have some damage if they force an ICD-10 mandate and people aren’t ready. They could have some collateral damage from it, but not the same as Healthcare.gov where the product is really their own product.

Plus, if ICD-10 goes bad, consumers/patients won’t know much difference. No patient cares if you code their visit in ICD-9 or ICD-10. They’ll still get the exact same care when they’re visiting the doctor. If ICD-10 goes bad, it will be doctors and hospitals that suffer. That’s a very different situation than Healthcare.gov which was to be used by millions of Americans.

I hope that HHS doesn’t delay ICD-10 based on their experience with Healthcare.gov. If HHS becomes gun shy about any project that IT touches, nothing will ever get done. That’s a terrible way for an organization to function.

A Practice’s View of ICD-10

Posted on January 16, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

In our recent article about AMA’s call to Halt ICD-10, we got a really interesting practice perspective on ICD-10 that I thought I’d share. The comments come from Sue Ann Jantz who works at a medical practice. Sue brings up some really interesting points that I think are on the minds of many practices and doctors. The final one about 3rd party payer systems is an important one.

In your recent article
The American Medical Association’s most recent call to halt implementation of ICD-10 codes brings to light an interesting angle to the coding story – one that I hadn’t recognized until I read up on just why the AMA has consistently made it known that the switch is a bad idea.

My two cent’s worth:
See, all of the coding changes are going to fall on the physicians — they won’t be able to pawn it off on anyone else, like a nurse or a coder/biller or an administrator. Remember, they do MEDICINE, not transcription, billing, personnel or business.

This is especially true of docs in large organizations such as hospitals and multispecialty clinics (MSC), who believe they have to do all the extra preventative care things because the government tells them to — not realizing that the incentive payment has some administrator licking their chops. As far as most Admins are concerned, getting the docs to do extra work doesn’t cost the hospital or MSC anything, so, why not?

Add to that the perfect storm that’s brewing: HITECH act —> electronic records and meaningful use (MU), ACA —> ACOs and reconfiguration of alliances, and then ICD-10 —-> total rearrangment of charting/documenting (plus the unknown).

And you are surprised there’s smoke coming out of the AMA’s ears? Personally, I am concerned there will be meltdown in the medical community. As far as most of them are concerned, this is all Obama’s fault, and they are furious and busy telling everyone who comes in that Obama is the devil. Granted, those that blame Obama are the one I’ve heard — so that’s probably a limited group in Kansas.

At a coding seminar recently, the presenter asked how many were going to get out before ICD-10 kicked in. Most of the room of 50 people raised their hands – about 80 percent. Further, they said their physicians were going to retire before that happened as well. ICD-10 is slated to go into effect Oct. 1, 2014. Everyone is supposed to be signed up for health insurance by Dec. 31, 2014, bringing anywhere from 15 million to 30 million people into the health care system looking for a provider.

Do you think this might be a problem?

That said, individually, all three of these things are long overdue. Had each been done when they needed to happen, we wouldn’t be in this fix now. Plus, ICD-10 will go into effect and a few months later, ICD-11 will be implemented everywhere else in the world — some think we should skip to ICD-11 … but we probably have enough on our plates at the moment.

Politically, Sebelius has to get this done before the end of Obama’s term. I hope it doesn’t crash us. I am working on it all as if it’s all going to happen. We are not part of an ACO, we probably won’t get to MU1 even though we are working on it because there isn’t enough money in it, although we did do the Adopt/Implement/Upgrade part of the HITECH act. So, that only leaves ICD-10. and I am working on our templates, those instruments of the devil by Sebelius’ standards. Without templates, we wouldn’t have a prayer.

And none of this addresses the 3rd party payer systems … which will probably crash if the early tests are indicative. That means we will not get paid. So I am stockpiling money for that time now.