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ICD-10 Transition DeadlineThe Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) (on July 31, 2014) has issued a final confirmation establishing October 1, 2015 as the new compliance date for transitioning to the ICD-10 medical diagnosis and billing codes. The date had been widely anticipated, as the US Congress passed a legislation way back on March 31, which brought a one year delay to the deadline October 1, 2014. All physician offices and Medical coding companies who had started getting ready now have a deadline, hopefully.

The ICD-10 code set accommodates codes for new diseases and procedures, with 69,000 codes replacing the present 14,000 codes.

The final rule which is to be published in the Federal Register on August 4 implements Section 212 of the Protecting Access to Medicare Act (PAMA) of 2014, confirming the implementation date as October 1, 2015. The rule requires payers and providers to use ICD-9-CM through September 30, 2015.

Many healthcare organizations were fully getting ready for the ICD-10 implementation, when the Congress issued a postponement of the transition. Since then, many organizations have kept up with their preparations for the new medical coding system.

The new deadline will certainly provide more time for healthcare providers, insurance companies and others working in the healthcare domain to ramp up their operations to ensure that their systems and processes are ready for the transition.

Reports from CMS show that the one year delay will certainly take a financial toll on the healthcare domain, as the cost to HIPAA-covered entities will increase from $1.1 billion to $6.8 billion. However, CMS estimates that extending the delay beyond one year could possibly leave the current ICD-10 system updates and releases outdated, which would not fare well for providers that have already invested considerably for the transition. Moreover, a longer delay (involving more than year) would slow or even stop the ICD-10 implementation process.

The American Health Information Management Association in a statement appreciated the deadline finalization. CMS officials said that “ICD-10 codes will offer enhanced support for patient care, and improve disease management, quality measurement and analytics”. For those patients under the care of multiple providers, this can help promote care coordination.

ICD-10 provides more specificity and eliminates ambiguity of the medical codes. This will aid in ensuring better communication and enhanced quality patient care. The issuance of the compliance deadline is quite significant as it accelerates the rule-making process. With the final confirmation on the implementation deadline, healthcare organizations need to optimize workflows and provide higher training to users and prepare for better medical record documentation.