Senator Tom Coburn, M.D. and Jason Fodeman, M.D.: ICD-10 Implementation Date: Better Never Than Later?

HHS recently announced hospitals and physicians have to adopt a new generation of diagnosis codes by October 1, 2014. Providers have to adopt what is effectively the tenth generation of the codes of International Classification of Diseases, known as “ICD-10.” The main difference between the current ICD-9 codes and the new set, is there are many more codes, and they are filled with redundancies and unnecessary intricacies. The costs of this changeover for hospitals already operating under narrow financial margins will be substantial. The adoption of the codes will, by default, force physicians to devote more time and energy toward coding, which may detract from patient care. ICD-10 could indirectly accelerate the vertical integration of medicine and exacerbate the physician shortage. While the compliance costs of ICD-10 are tangible, the benefits are much more esoteric. As health care providers struggle to navigate the murky waters of health care reform, until more meaningful changes are made to lower costs and reduce administrative costs, HHS should halt ICD-10 implementation.

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