TMA says: Put ICD-10 on permanent hold
The ICD-10 requirement is an excellent example of a costly regulation that will disrupt practice operations. ICD-10 is a 20-year-old boondoggle of a system that will help only health care researchers. Before Secretary Sebelius delayed the new coding language for an additional year, the federal government announced that all physicians, hospitals, providers, and insurance companies must shift from ICD-9 to ICD-10 no later than Oct. 1, 2013. The punishment for noncompliance is severe: no payment for any medical services provided.
The number of diagnostic codes that physicians would be required to use under ICD-10 would grow from 13,500 to 69,000. The number of codes for inpatient procedures also would soar from 4,000 to 71,000. For example, the new system has 480 codes for a fractured knee cap — up from a grand total of two in ICD-9. Switching to ICD-10 will mandate extensive revision of physicians’ paper and electronic systems. Transition to the new system is expected to cost solo physicians as much as $83,000 each, and group practices of up to 10 doctors as much as $250,000.
The ICD-10 mandate will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patient care. It is a huge weight to place on physicians when they face numerous other administrative hurdles, including implementing and achieving meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs), meeting quality measures under Medicare’s PQRS and other programs, the impending creation of accountable care organizations in Medicare, and more. The timing of the transition could not be worse, as many physicians already are spending significant time and resources implementing EHRs in their practices.
ICD-10 is old technology developed during the 1980s and not designed to work in the current electronic world. A new version of the diagnostic and procedure codes, ICD-11, could come as early as 2015. It is being designed for use with electronic health records and the Internet, and should be more user-friendly than ICD-10.