ICD-10 is upon us!

Chad Michael Van Alstin,
Features Editor

It’s here, friends: the dreaded transition to the ICD-10 coding system. While the rest of the developed (and, quite frankly, some of the lesser-developed) world has been on board for quite some time, the good ol’ USA. follows its traditional course of being unfashionably late to a party that’s all but wrapping up, with ICD-11 inevitably right around the corner.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Healthcare providers and organizations in the United States won’t have to worry about that for quite some time, since most aren’t even ready for ICD-10 yet, according to studies conducted by the American Medical Association and WEDI. With all the delays, and considering the traditionally incompetent nature of the federal government when it comes to enacting any significant change, it’s honestly no surprise that, even with the transition a month away, many in the industry are still in denial.

Much of my family works in healthcare, and I’ve had some discussions with them regarding the acceptance of the coding system. Unsurprisingly, they all tell me the same story: training is ongoing, reactions tend to lean in the direction of tantrums and dismissal, and many clinicians are actively ignoring the transition in hopes it’ll go away. Some, I’m told, have even threatened to quit in hopes that their employers will hold the line against the invasion, despite the overwhelming odds against that strategy actually succeeding.

This seems to be the story across the board. The tech vendors are ready to roll, but providers … well, they’ll get to it after that one-year grace period the AMA recently afforded them in a last-minute deal with CMS. I am not in any position to comment on the value of ICD-10 itself, but I can say that, as a journalist, the adventure surrounding the transition to the new coding system has afforded me some amusement every time a new sensational, red-herring objection from a politician or lobbyist crosses my desk.

I’ve watched the battle rage from the sidelines, and the only real conclusion I can come to is that ICD-10 adoption stands as yet another example of how powerful lobbying dollars can be, considering the multiple pushbacks. But in the end, it seems unlikely that any further delays will come to the rescue.

That brings us to the latest issue of HMT, the final one before ICD-10 goes live and (maybe) wreaks havoc upon the collective revenue cycle of the industry. Within these pages, you’ll find ICD-10 compliance to be a huge priority. The general consensus of the writers we feature this month seems clear: ICD-10 is coming whether you like it or not, so let’s make its adoption as painless as possible.

We hope you find value in the content you find here, especially as this drama moves into 2016. This time next year, we’ll all undoubtedly re-examine once again how ready providers find themselves as the expiration on that grace period draws closer and closer. There’s no doubt in my mind that this issue is far from resolved, and it will continue to remain relevant and interesting for a long while.

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