AHIMA maintains stance on ICD-10 deadline

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is holding firm in its opposition to any further delays in the ICD-10 compliance deadline.

AHIMA filed a comment letter May 9 with the Department of Health and Human Services’ leaders in response to a section of a proposed rule that addresses “Change to the Compliance Date for ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS Medical Data Code Sets.”

Since a delay is likely, AHIMA leaders said the association will continue to work with the Department of Health & Human Services and the healthcare industry to ensure the delay is as short as possible, preferably not more than one year.

“ICD-9 is antiquated and no longer adequately meets the challenge of a 21st century healthcare system,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon. “ICD-10 should be implemented in a timely manner, and AHIMA is ready to continue assisting the healthcare community to prepare for the transition. We also encourage advance testing of the ICD-10 codes to be sure there are no further delays in the implementation deadline.”

AHIMA and the health information management professionals who comprise its membership are well-qualified to respond to the proposed rule, Thomas Gordon said. Many AHIMA members are on the frontlines and work directly with the classification systems impacted by these rules and were involved in the development and maintenance of the existing code set and the development of ICD-10.

The letter calls attention to the classification system as more than a claims and billing mechanism. The new codes are critical to the care and diagnosis information that can be synthesized and used for communicating issues of severity, quality and provide better healthcare for the individual patient and the community. For instance, AHIMA noted, the ICD-10 codes significantly expand the ability to document and detail incidences of domestic violence. As a result, health officials can enhance detection and treatment and develop more proactive steps to prevent domestic violence.

“ICD-10 is the foundation for other critical national healthcare initiatives such as meaningful use, value-based purchasing, payment reform, quality reporting and accountable care organizations,” said Dan Rode, AHIMA vice president for advocacy and policy. “Without ICD-10, the value of these other efforts is greatly diminished.”

A delay of more than one year would cause additional confusion for colleges and universities as to what they should be teaching, AHIMA executives noted. Students already have been trained in ICD-10 and are forced to use ICD-9-CM when they enter the workforce.