AHIMA reiterates opposition to ICD-10 delay

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The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) has once again voiced its concerns over the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) decision to postpone the deadline for transition to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD-10).

In a letter to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of the HHS, officials from AHIMA strongly opposed the decision to delay the transition to the new codebase. Originally, the deadline for migration to ICD-10 was October 2013. Officials at the HHS voted to postpone the date by one year to October 2014 earlier this year, despite opposition from several healthcare IT advocacy groups.

The letter recognized the steps taken by the HHS in providing healthcare organizations with adequate assistance in migrating to the new codebase, but urged Sebelius to ensure that no further extensions to the deadline were authorized beyond October 2014.

“ICD-9 is antiquated and no longer adequately meets the challenge of a 21st-century healthcare system,” Lynne Thomas Gordon, chief executive officer of AHIMA, said in a statement. “ICD-10 should be implemented in a timely manner, and AHIMA is ready to continue assisting the healthcare community to prepare for the transition.  We also encourage advance testing of the ICD-10 codes to be sure there are no further delays in the implementation deadline.”

Work on the ICD-10 codebase originally began in 1983 and was completed in 1992. The improved codes enable physicians to bill insurance providers for a variety of new medical conditions and diagnoses, but substantial investments in healthcare IT infrastructure and staff training have delayed adoption of the new system.

Several countries have been using ICD-10 or regional variants of the codes for some time. Canada first adopted its own version of the codebase in 2000, and Korea implemented a variant of the system in 2008.

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