At Long Last, An Official ICD-10 Delay Announcement

Posted on March 30, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is veteran healthcare branding and communications expert with more than 25 years of industry experience. and her commentaries have appeared in dozens of international business publications, including Forbes, Business Week and Information Week. She has also worked extensively healthcare and health IT organizations, including several Fortune 500 companies. She can be reached at @ziegerhealth or

Waiting to see what you got for Christmas is fun. Waiting to see when the ICD-10 mandate will be put into place is, well, not fun at all.

But soon our anticipation will come to an end. According to one columnist with the presumably well informed ICD 10 Watch, next week CMS will stop playing peek a boo and announce its proposal for a new ICD-10 schedule.

According to columnist Carl Natale, next week CMS will publish their proposals and begin the 60 day comment process of accepting feedback.  After that, we wait. And maybe, wait and wait…

In the mean time, Natale has done a nice job of collecting some perspectives on why the delay is a good idea. A few examples:

  • It’s worth waiting to get ICD-10 in place rather than skipping over and heading for ICD-11, since it would take incredibly long to drag the industry that far.  Instead, let’s issue a schedule that makes ICD-10 feasible and while we’re at it, start planning for ICD-11-CM/PCS, suggests Rhonda Butler.
  • Give physicians time to ease into ICD-10 and they’ll be ready to use it to streamline clinical coding for key diagnoses such as diabetes and chronic heart failure diagnoses.
  • It’s too soon to roll out ICD-10 because in many cases, existing clinical documentation isn’t rich enough to support accurate ICD-10 coding.  The medical industry needs time to make this transition, according to Priya Patel.

You should also take a look at John’s analysis of the ICD-10 delay on EMR Thoughts.

Now, given the agonies hospitals and medical are going through with their EMR installations and related workflow changes, it’d be more than easy for them to keep bumping ICD-10 preparation into the future.

But it’s pretty clear that delaying on ICD-10 prep will bite them in the hindquarters eventually. And don’t rely on vendors to make everything work out nicely, as Brad Boyd reminds us.  While vendors may be able to help, you won’t be able to turn over the transition to a nice, friendly outsider.

In summary, the ICD-10 announcement is almost certainly a good thing, but experts agree that it’d be downright crazy to let it lull you into a false sense of security.  Hard to argue with that assessment, no?