Top Five ICD-10 Pitfalls – “Top 10” Health IT List Series

Today is going to be the last day looking at other people’s “Top Health IT Lists” since tomorrow I think I’ll create my own Top 10 Health IT 2011 List and then for the New Years I’ll see about doing a Top 10 Health IT in 2012 list. However, today let’s look at something that will likely make the Top 10 2012 Health IT issues: ICD-10. Government Health IT recently wrote an article what they call the Top 5 ICD-10 Pitfalls.

1. Reporting: I’m sure that many think that ICD-10 is just going to happen and be fine. They’ll assume that their reports are just going to work with ICD-10 since they worked with ICD-9. Don’t be so sure. Test the reports so you know one way or another. Diving a little deeper beforehand is a lot better than learning about the problems after.

2. Overlooking impacted areas: Much like an EHR implementation, don’t forget the other people that are affected by ICD-10. Involve everyone in the process so that they can share their concerns so they can be addressed. Plus, by having them involved you’ll get much better buy in from the staff.

3. Teaching old dogs new tricks: ICD-10 is a different beast and will require significant training even if you have an expert ICD-9 coder with years of experience. Don’t underestimate the cost to train your coders on ICD-10.

4. Preparing for impact on productivity: The article mentions Canada’s loss of productivity during their implementation of ICD-10. Do we think we’re going to be any different? Remember also that productivity loss can come in a lot of different places (which is kind of a repeat of number 2 above).

5. Communicating with IT vendors: It’s one thing to trust that your EHR and other health IT vendors are prepared to deal with ICD-10. It’s another to blindly follow whatever you’re being told. Remember at the end of the day it’s your organization that will suffer if your health IT vendor is not ready. I like to use the phrase, trust but verify.

Be sure to read the rest of my Health IT Top 10 as they’re posted.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • The 5 pitfalls of ICD-10 conversion deal with reporting, productivity loss, inadequate training, overlooking some areas impacted and communication with health care operations. The government lists these as the top 5 pitfalls. Most large health providers will have all these pitfalls handled. The government has a very big stake because of the large impact of Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare and Medicaid will likely have all of these problems because of the special coding requirements medicare places on providers. They add special coding requirements from ICD-9 that other insurance does not require.

    The US is the last country using ICD-9. We MUST move to ICD-10. Help give us an equal comparison to really see how our health care compares to the rest of the world. With the US using ICD-9 and the rest of the world using ICD-10, these comparisons are impossible

  • Rich Hartmann,
    Which comparisons do you think we’ll do or be able to do once we are on ICD-10 like the rest of the world? Also, if the goal is for us to compare ourselves to the rest of the world, why did we then decide to make our own version of ICD-10? I imagine there’s a reason that move was made and I’d love to know why.

  • We can compare preventative services, like vaccinations, mammography, prostate exams to name a few. The AMA produces the CM – Clinical Modification to ICD coding to insure codes conform to the way physicians diagnose and treat patients in the US.

    ICD-10 is only used in the US today for causes of death. ICD-10 is used by every country in the world except the US. ICD-10 codes are much more specific to coding the time, skill levels for medical technologies developed in the last 30-40 years.

  • Rich,
    I’m not trying to argue either way, but I am trying to understand the benefit to using ICD-10. As you say, the rest of the world has been using it for a while. I wonder what benefits the rest of the world has seen from ICD-10. How come we haven’t seen more stories about those benefits? I’d love to see some if you know of any.

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