Life after ICD-10

ICD 10As you well know, the most current date for ICD-10 implementation, Oct. 1, 2015, is fast approaching. As we hurtle along toward that fateful day, it seems the most immediate question on the minds of those involved both inside and outside the healthcare industry is “Will there be another delay in ICD-10 implementation?”

I think this concern absorbs most concerned parties’ attention because we are afraid to dare let ourselves believe that implementation might actually take place. We don’t want to waste our time planning for something we are not convinced will actually happen. Remember the old phrase “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me”?  We’ve been burned by implementation delay one too many times and we don’t want to be that fool.

However, thanks to diligent, unrelenting efforts on the part of professional organizations such as AHIMA as well as individual HIM professionals and others invested in the future success and the safety and quality of healthcare delivery I do think that we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. And, thankfully, no, it’s not the lamp of an oncoming train. I believe we are going to do it this time. I have faith we will make the leap, and when Oct. 2, 2015 rolls around I will be truly surprised and (obviously) sorely disappointed if we are not knee deep in assigning ICD-10 codes.

“Why?” you may ask am I optimistic about the chances of implementation going forward this time when it has been delayed so many times before. Well, just as red breasted robins and buds on bare trees are harbingers of spring, there are signs indicating confidence from the highest levels of authority, namely AHIMA and CMS, that implementation will go forward. AHIMA is creating all new certification exam coding questions solely in ICD-10 and CMS’ release of the 2016 version of ICD-10-PCS includes the addition of a new section, Section X, specifically used to report new technologies. Additionally, the political hurdles that previously proved to be obstacles to past implementation dates have come and gone and currently, with the exception of a few minor kerfuffles, all seems to be quiet on the political front.

With the likelihood of implementation being so high this time around, perhaps now it’s time to let go of the old fear of being made to look a fool and to begin turning our focus to the future and what lies ahead for the future of HIM in a post ICD-10 implementation world. In their June edition, The Journal of AHIMA published an article that examines exactly that subject. What will life look like immediately after we implement ICD-10? What about 1-5 years post implementation? 5-10 years or longer? Check out this article written by Mary Butler and explore the impacts she foresees ICD-10 implementation having on the future life of health information management and its role in the safety and quality of healthcare delivery.

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