The Department of Health and Human Services gives software vendors until 2014 to incorporate support of the ICD-10 diagnosis code.
The U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services has officially extended the deadline to 2014 for the implementation
of a new claims code identifier called International Classification of Diseases
HHS announced the extension on Aug.
24 and proposed the plan on April 9
. By using ICD-10,
health care providers and health insurance payers could streamline their
The news came a day after the HHS
issued a final rule on Stage 2
of the meaningful-use
incentives for adoption of electronic health records.
Companies such as Edifecs
offer health care claims and billing software that help providers transition to
"Edifecs commends HHS for
finalizing its ruling on the ICD-10 one-year delay," the company said in a
statement. "We believe HHS has made the right decision and that a delay of
this length strikes a fair compromise in meeting the needs of those health care
entities that have already started down the ICD-10 path and those that have
failed to either begin or show much progress."
Another software developer,
VitalWare, offers a tool called VitalView
, which provides a dashboard for
hospitals and doctors' offices to keep track of claims deadlines and diagnostic
The ICD-10 standard could cut
"red tape" as outlined under Obamacare
, the Patient Protection and Affordable
Care Act, according to HHS.
"These new standards are a part
of our efforts to help providers and health plans spend less time filling out
paperwork and more time seeing their patients," HHS Secretary Kathleen
Sebelius said in a statement.
A lack of a common standard for
identifying health plans can lead to misrouting of transactions and rejection
of claims due to insurance identification errors, HHS reported. The lack of
uniformity in billing code identifiers can also cause difficulty in determining
patient eligibility for health coverage.
As far as IT systems, analysts such
as Christine M. Armstrong of Deloitte Consulting have compared the move to
ICD-10 to the Y2K transition of 2000 as far as cost and impact.
Only 61 percent of health insurance
companies anticipate being ready to meet the ICD-10 deadline by 2014, according
to a July 10 "State of the Payer" survey by HealthEdge
a developer of software for health care insurers.
HealthEdge interviewed 100 leaders
of health-insurance organizations and found that about half the insurers expect
an ICD-10 delay to have limited financial impact on their operation.
A delay of one year was not
sufficient, the American Medical Association
(AMA) argued. The
trade group for physicians recommended a delay of two years.
"The AMA appreciates the
administration's decision to provide a one-year delay in response to AMA
advocacy, but we have urged [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] to
do more to reduce the regulatory burdens on physician practices so physicians
can spend more time with patients," Dr. Steven J. Stack, AMA chair, said
in an Aug. 27 statement.
ICD-10 could bring additional codes
that providers and insurers must account for rather than a simple standard
format, Stack suggested.
"Implementing ICD-10 alone
requires physicians and their office staff to contend with 68,000 codes-a
fivefold increase from the current 13,000 codes," said Stack. "The
implementation of ICD-10 will create more challenges for physicians when our
Medicare system is broken and cannot provide adequate funding to cover the cost
of these additional administrative burdens."