HHS proposes one-year extension to ICD-10 implementation deadline

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Ending weeks of speculation in the healthcare IT community, officials at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have proposed that the deadline for compliance with the new  International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (ICD-10) codebase be extended by one year, reports Information Week.

Originally, the date for healthcare IT professionals to migrate to the new codebase was October of 2013. However, many hospitals and other medical facilities had expressed concerns about their ability to meet the deadline. After much debate, the HHS announced its intentions to postpone the compliance date by one year earlier this week.

Transitioning to the new medical billing codes system could be a potentially significant financial investment for many healthcare facilities, as well as a considerable undertaking from a healthcare IT perspective.

Officials at the American Medical Association (AMA) estimate that the costs of migrating to the new codebase could range from more than $83,000 to upward of $100 million for multi-hospital care organizations.

“This is a massive administrative and financial undertaking for physicians, requiring education, software, coder training, and testing with payers,” James Madara, chief executive officer of the AMA, wrote in a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius last week, as quoted by the news source.

According to Healthcare IT News, many care providers and facilities are moving forward with plans to meet the original deadline, despite the recent announcement. Some experts fear that the extension of the compliance date could create additional financial difficulties for care providers and cause the industry-wide adoption of the new codes to lose momentum.

However, some medical experts believe that the extension of the deadline will allow healthcare providers to spread the costs of the migration over several years.

Work on the ICD-10 codebase originally began in 1983 and was completed in 1992.