AMA positions itself against ICD-10 transition

As part of a wider overhaul of the current electronic medical billing system currently used by doctors, the U.S. government is mandating that certain small medical facilities and private practices begin using new coding by October 2013. While this transition has been coming for quite some time, the American Medical Association (AMA) moved to push back the deadline on November 28.

At one of the organization's key annual meetings, its delegates adopted a resolution that aimed to stop the implementation of ICD-10. If effective at altering current legislative deadlines, the initiative would allow doctors to continue the use of the more familiar ICD-9 coding.

The AMA says its chief concern regarding the transition is that the process puts too much of a burden on the nation's healthcare workers – who have recently been navigating the switch to electronic medical records software.

"At a time when we are working to get the best value possible for our health care dollar, this massive and expensive undertaking will add administrative expense and create unnecessary workflow disruptions," AMA President Peter Carmel said in a press release.

According to the AMA's research, ICD-10 will cost three-physician practices nearly $90,000 to fully implement. Still, despite the strong opposition from the AMA, a number of major healthcare institutions say ICD-10 is a necessary change. ICD-9 has been in use since the mid-1970s, and some medical professionals argue the coding hasn't kept up with the industry over the years.

Regardless of whether the final date for this transition is pushed back, medical facilities could benefit by making the switch to top technology from Practice Choice or Allscripts now. For example, all HIPPA-covered entities need to be using ANSI 5010 by the end of the year, and the procedures and protocols that these organizations used to implement this software may be best put to use tackling another large initiative before the deadline.