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Critics, fans debate implementing ICD-10 coding system

In this HIT Squad podcast, SearchHealthIT reporters discussed the benefits and problems of ICD-10 coding as seen by experts.

Some healthcare providers and experts are wary, fearful and critical of ICD-10 and aren't looking forward to implementing ICD-10 on Oct. 1.

Others, meanwhile, maintain that the new coding system and its fivefold increase in the number of medical codes will bring big benefits including more accurate and detailed health data. These supporters think transitioning to ICD-10 coding will not be a huge problem for most healthcare providers, at least larger ones.

Either way, ICD-10 is the law. And while there will be a sort of one-year grace period for physicians during which they won't be penalized for an imprecise code, everyone, like it or not, will have to replace ICD-9 with ICD-10 by Oct. 1.

In this HIT Squad podcast episode, SearchHealthIT reporters Shaun Sutner and Kristen Lee shared what they found talking with health IT players on both sides of the ICD-10 coding divide.

The experts Lee talked with said productivity will plummet after the implementation date, revenue will drop and physicians will bear the costs of investing in what they see as a government mandate, among other problems.

The health IT CIOs and an ICD-10 expert from the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), whom Sutner interviewed, said that they and other larger providers are more than ready.

Most larger providers have already done the testing, training and, in many cases, double coding. They also pointed out that coders, rather than physicians, will be tasked with ICD-10 coding. Physicians will mainly have to step up their documentation, but as the AHIMA expert explained, there are software tools to assist with that.

Despite the differing views, one thing is all but certain: The U.S. health IT world is moving to ICD-10. And that day will be here soon.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Shaun Sutner, news and features writer, or contact @SSutner on Twitter.

Next Steps

Coding expert recommends ICD-10 testing and budgeting

ICD-10 preparation should include clinical documentation improvement

How healthcare CIOs can stop ICD-10-related disruption before it happens

This was last published in September 2015

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