Last month the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a freeze on the code for ICD-9 and ICD-10. After the annual code update scheduled for Oct. 1, 2011, the next regular update won’t occur until 2014 — and by then it will affect only ICD-10 because CMS is mandating a transition to ICD-10 code on Oct. 1, 2013.
Because some coders are struggling with the transition to ICD-10, and others are describing it as more significant, and more difficult than the last decade’s Y2K transition, the freeze is generally viewed as a welcome respite. Of course, it does mean that problems with the ICD-10 code could go three years without being fixed, though updates associated with new diseases and technologies will be made in 2012 and 2013.
Ultimately, there is a lot of concern about the ICD-10 transition and how it could affect providers. There is no official penalty for failing to use ICD-10 codes beginning on Oct. 1, 2013, but organizations that aren’t using ICD-10, simply put, will not get paid.
To help providers along, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) has developed an ICD-10 predictive model, a Microsoft Excel-based application that can determine the costs associated with making the transition and its effects on the revenue cycle. The model will be available to HIMSS members later this year. Hopefully that will give providers enough time.