ICD-10: We’re (Almost) Ready to Celebrate this Milestone

I haven’t written anything about ICD-10 yet and it’s probably because I’m still cautiously optimistic about the October 1, 2015 implementation date; with more emphasis on the cautious part. Anyone who knows me knows I am naturally an optimist, but I just don’t know if I can trust 100% that ICD-10 will go ahead this time without a hitch. The introduction of the proposed Coding Flexibility in Healthcare Act calls for acceptance of both ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes for 180 days after go-live. I think this would create a huge mess with system limitations and inconsistencies. The AMA and CMS have offered a “grace period” for ICD-10 claim denials and PQRS for 12 months which sounds like an acceptable compromise for physicians but I don’t agree with this plan either. We need to move forward with ICD-10 in its entirety as we are long overdue for this implementation.

Healthcare organizations have been steadily preparing for ICD-10 for over 5 years and each time, HIM coders and organizations are disappointed with the repeated delays in implementation. I don’t think most physicians have been disappointed by the delays as they have been vocal in their opposition over the years. I think most healthcare professionals would agree that we need ICD-10 since ICD-9 is outdated and becoming obsolete and we are one of the only countries still not using this classification system.

With the US Congress involved, the entire subject of ICD-10 has been skewed in many different directions over the years. ICD-10 has been inserted into conversations where it doesn’t belong which has resulted in unnecessary delays and excuses. HIM professionals from all over the US have been reaching out to US Congress men and women in efforts to educate these elected officials on the benefits of implementing ICD-10. This go-round, we are closer than ever but there is still a lot of opposing or anxious chatter out there.

At my organization, our coders are trained in ICD-10 CM and PCS. We have dual coded countless records and tested claims to prepare for the change. We feel our hospital is ready (and has been ready) for ICD-10. Our physicians are buzzing about the new code set and they are participating in training over the next few weeks. Our physician office staff are learning what they need to know for physician billing and are providing assistance in the training. Our business office has conducted payer testing and we have tweaked our systems to ensure claims and reports are ready to receive ICD-10 codes. We want to be as proactive as possible in anticipating any decreases in revenue flow.

I know many of my peers feel ready for Oct. 1 and are also waiting for that day to get here before officially celebrating this milestone. We have scheduled an ICD-10 Kickoff party for the morning of Oct. 1 at our organization. Hopefully, this will be a celebration of the implementation and all of our hard work preparing over the years. We must all continue preparing for ICD-10 and remain as optimistic as possible for this long awaited opportunity to improve coding specificity and quality healthcare documentation.

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About the author

Erin Head

Erin Head

Erin Head is the Director of Health Information Management (HIM) and Quality for an acute care hospital in Titusville, FL. She is a renowned speaker on a variety of healthcare and social media topics and currently serves as CCHIIM Commissioner for AHIMA. She is heavily involved in many HIM and HIT initiatives such as information governance, health data analytics, and ICD-10 advocacy. She is active on social media on Twitter @ErinHead_HIM and LinkedIn. Subscribe to Erin's latest HIM Scene posts here.


  • ICD-10-CM /PCS is almost here. With the delays, I think that every one involved has had an ample amount of time to prepare for this exciting transition.

    Good luck to everyone, I am sure that it will have its ups and downs, but overall, this milestone will come and go without major incidents.

  • Good luck to you all on your ICD-10 implementation I hope it all goes well for you.
    We have been using ICD-10 here in Australia now for quite a while and I remember we had a few challenges when we changed over from ICD-9 but we got through it and we are now up to using our 9th Edition of the classification (We change editions every 2 years)

    Good luck and best wishes.

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