OC Reilly Blog: AMA Report Cites ICD-10 Challenges

By Ray Staudt, Executive Director, Business Development, OC Reilly Inc.


According to an article in the Feb. 17, 2014, issue of Modern Healthcare magazine, a new report sponsored by the American Medical Association recommends delaying the Oct. 1 start date for the new ICD-10 medical coding system, citing that implementation costs will exceed prior estimates.

ICD-10 is the 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD), a medical classification list by the World Health Organization (WHO). It codes for diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases.

But one of the reasons ICD-10 represents such an imposing challenge – both in timing and cost – is that the code sets it classifies are estimated to expand ten-fold, from 14,000 to approximately 140,000.  

What’s more, in the most recent iteration, ICD-9, codes contained up to 5 numeric characters with some starting with an E or V code, while ICD-10 will change all codes to alphanumeric, beginning with a letter and with a mix of numbers and letters ranging from 3 to 7 characters – vastly expanding the system.

The AMA-sponsored report estimated costs to fully comply with the Oct. 1 ICD-10 deadline could range from $56,000-$226,000 for small practices, $213,000-$824,000 for medium-sized practices, and from $2 million-$8 million for large practices – with each exceeding original estimates made in 2008.

The story also notes that, according to the Medical Group Management Association, only 9.4% of physician practices responding to a survey reported that they had made significant progress toward ICD-10 readiness.

One of the most practical solutions – regardless of whether the deadline gets extended – is to reach out for help from service providers and consultants like OC Reilly who are skilled in ICD-10 regulations and practical implementation strategies.