Some healthcare professionals expressing concern over ICD-10 extension

In the wake of large-scale digital healthcare transitions, many facilities already experiencing difficulty updating their practice management with electronic medical records, electronic billing and eprescribing software were delighted to hear the news that the deadline for implementing the new coding requirements under ICD-10 was extended in February.

After pressure from the American Medical Association, healthcare providers and government organizations, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) extended the original October 2013 ICD-10 deadline to an unspecified date that will likely give providers at least one to two more additional years to achieve compliance.

Interestingly, while healthcare IT updates are undoubtedly difficult for small medical facilities, according to the 2012 HIMISS Leadership Survey that polled more than 300 healthcare IT professionals, found that 90 percent of respondents reported readiness for an October 2013 ICD-10 conversion.

As such, many facilities that have been preparing the necessary plans and IT investments to make the transition according to the original schedule are expressing concern over the deadline extension.

Because so much time, energy and capital has been invested in ICD-10-related efforts, reports state that many facility managers fear the delayed deadline will actually have an adverse reaction on their practice considering the cost of neutralizing all the puzzle pieces already mobilized to successfully adhere to ICD-10 on time.

"Providers have spent millions preparing for a deadline set over three years in advance," wrote Richard Correll, CEO of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives, in a letter to HHS. "Technology has been upgraded, new processes implemented, new hires made and new education and training regimes established. This announcement has created a level of uncertainty that threatens much of the progress already made by many hospitals and clinics across the country."

While the issue remains a subject of contention, facilities looking to enhance their preparedness for upcoming digital transitions would benefit from the deployment of a medical technology consulting firm who can help simplify the implementation and training process.

Microwize Technology is a leading healthcare IT consultant offering products such as electronic medical records software and medical billing software from top providers like Allscripts and McKesson, including McKesson's Medisoft, Lytec and Practice Choice products.