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Thursday, 10 April 2014 08:14

ICD-10’s: As Certain as Death and Taxes? Featured

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post 88 picI have been anticipating the advent of ICD-10’s and considering its impact on healthcare and dentistry in particular.

A December post entitled “Physicians Will Experience ICD-10 Anxiety Next Year. Should Dentists?” looked forward to this October, 2014 inevitability.

It was reinforced by Marilyn Tavenner, CMS Administrator, in February while giving a keynote address at the HIMSS conference. Her statement: “Let's face it guys, we've delayed this several times and it's time to move on.”

Well as Benjamin Franklin once said “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

On Tuesday, April 1st the president signed a bill that would postpone the implementation of ICD-10 until 10/1/2015, a one-year reprieve. The language in the bill prohibits CMS from enforcing the 2014 mandate for the new codes.

So do healthcare providers breathe a collective sigh of relief? It depends on where they were at with their ICD-10 preparations.

In my December post I mentioned that a small physician practice would spend around $83,000 to prepare for this change-over. If you have spent this money on system upgrades and staff education, the delay causes a loss of momentum that may be expensive to recapture in 2015.

The bill says nothing about organizations that may be ready to voluntarily implement the new codes. That would be like owners of Hondas collectively deciding to drive on the left side of the road. It would be disastrous.

It is unlikely that a provider, health system or insurer could be successful in implementing the new code set voluntarily.

Even the 2015 date is fraught with uncertainty. The World Health Organization is currently working on the ICD-11 code set. This is expected to be finalized in 2017 and CMS or HHS or Congress may decide to wait and jump from ICD-9 to 11, skipping 10 entirely.

Dentistry can sit back and chuckle because the impact of the changing of diagnosis codes would have only minimal effect (see my December post). But it does show that the government’s increased focus on reforming the healthcare system will require more flexibility throughout the industry.

I’d say that remaining flexible with these kinds of mandates would be a right click and would be as certain as death and taxes.

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Read 12268 times Last modified on Friday, 11 April 2014 10:38
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