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Health IT Pulse

Apr 12 2012   9:14AM GMT

ICD-10 implementation: Can we please just get on with it?

Posted by: DonFluckinger
AHIMA, AMA, CHIME, ICD-10 implementation, MGMA, WHO

“#wimps.” That was the email I sent to my colleagues upon reading that CMS officially put off ICD-10 implementation for a year.

Let me explain: Us SearchHealthIT editors frequently lard emails among ourselves with social media shorthand (in this case, a Twitter hashtag) and ridiculous images referencing inside jokes. While some of them even we don’t quite get ourselves, “#wimps” should be pretty clear to anyone.

In regard to ICD-10: Technically, it’s not my job to sympathize with anyone, and I don’t, mostly. It’s my job to tell the long story of our U.S. health IT implementation reality show as it unfolds, one episode at a time.

Certainly I don’t sympathize with the American Medical Association or the Medical Group Management Association, more #wimps, judging from their responses to CMS’s yearlong ICD-10 stay, which resonate like my eight-year-old arguing for extra video-game time when he should have been in bed an hour ago.

It’s not that I’m a CMS fan, either, although I do agree with the agency’s contention that it’s time to move off of ICD-9, a technology peer of the IBM punch card, for gosh sakes. Neither am I a Big Health Care fan, even though well-heeled health systems and payers probably are best equipped to weather the ICD-10 transition. Can’t even say that I’m a T Bedirhan Üstün, M.D. fan, either.

But one can’t help but appreciate the position – and conviction – of ICD-10 backers, who contend that American health care needs to quit dragging its feet and implement the diagnostic code set that most of the rest of the world did years ago (and, amazingly, without physicians wringing their hands).

The only people, really, deserving any sympathy in this latest chapter of ICD-10 theater are the leaders of College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Why? Not only are their members the coding staffers and IT leaders who must ensure that ICD-10 gets implemented, but they are a smart, organized gang driven by concrete deadlines to do what they do best: Measured rollouts, tested and validated before go-live.

That, and they can’t call CMS and the AMA a bunch of #wimps.

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