The Next Steps After the ICD-10 Delay

April 2, 2014
Laura Joszt

Whether you view the delay of ICD-10 as a relief or an annoyance, your organizations needs to consider its new plan for moving forward.

When Congress tucked away a provision delaying the transition to ICD-10 by at least a year, the healthcare community was split between relief and annoyance. Overall, though, everyone was taken by surprise after repeatedly being assured there would be no more delays.

Unsurprisingly, the readiness of an organization strongly correlated with the reaction to the new that ICD-10 implementation was pushed back to no earlier than October 1, 2015. Now, organizations that had sunk thousands, if not millions, of dollars into training, upgrades, and testing will need to keep a holding pattern for an undetermined length of time.

“Many, especially those who were ready to convert, are likely to be frustrated about putting other priorities on hold, only to have this last minute surprise,” Mitch Morris, MD, vice chairman and national healthcare provider lead for Deloitte LLP, wrote in a column.

Other organizations are viewing the delay as a blessing and an opportunity.

The Deloitte Center for Health Solutions held a discussion among its healthcare leaders on the implication of the legislation and how to move forward. The panel pointed out that one of the biggest questions right now is what will be the exact date for implementation.

Kimberly Beckendorf, director of Deloitte Consulting LLP, pointed out that until a firm date is set, the industry will be left in limbo, unable to properly plan for the transition.

Resources and funding will be the two most difficult aspects of the delay, added Melinda Reno, principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP. Despite all the money organizations have already invested in ICD-10, an extension to the deadline only increases the cost to those who were already prepared for transition.

But it isn’t only the organizations that were ready for the transition that are likely frustrated at another delay, according to Christine Armstrong, RHIA, MBA, principal for Deloitte Consulting LLP.

“There is fatigue in the industry on continuing to focus on ICD-10,” she pointed out. “Even if you weren’t ready, if you had managed the risk, then you wanted the go-live date.”

There are opportunities available in the delayed transition deadline, though, Armstrong said.

“On the provider side, organizations will be able to say, ‘What are the 5 things I wanted to accomplish that I couldn’t with the 2014 date?’” she said.

Morris wrote in his column on the Deloitte website that providers can also take the time for additional training and practice with the new code set

However, all organizations, no matter how ready they were for the transition should be wary of putting ICD-10 on complete hold until the new deadline approaches. Those who kept things on a slow burn were the most successful at picking up where they left off, according to Armstrong. In contrast, those organizations that paused ICD-10 operations had more difficulty rejuvenating momentum and getting people engaged again.

Ways that organizations can capitalize on the delay, according to Deloitte, include:

• Fully test and validate ICD-10 transition

• Refocus for other priority initiatives

• Incorporate lessons learned from the first delay

• Expand collaboration testing and modeling

• Provide extended and more detailed training

“With this delay there could be an opportunity for health plans and providers to support each other,” Morris wrote. “This is something they couldn’t do so easily given the previous timeline, which required many organizations to drive full-speed ahead independently toward the transition.”