If there’s one thing healthcare providers want, it’s more time. More time with their patients, with their families and more time to prepare for upcoming initiatives affecting their practices — specifically, ICD-10.
So as we drift further away from the original deadline of the ICD-10 transition and toward the newest date of Oct. 1 — hearing rumors of even more delays along the way — there’s one question on everyone’s mind:
“Why don’t we just skip ICD-10 and go straight to ICD-11?” revealed Mike Enos, coding consultant. “That’s the question I get asked a lot — and it makes me chuckle.”
To some, overlooking ICD-10 seems like a feasible solution. ICD-11 is already in its Beta draft, and it is expected to be finalized and submitted to the World Health Assembly in 2017, only two years after the expected U.S. ICD-10 transition date — barring any further delays, of course. So why not make the leap straight to ICD-11?
According to Mike, it’s not quite that simple.
“It’s true that ICD-11 is already being worked on. There’s a Beta draft already,” Mike said. “But you also have to consider that just because ICD-10 is new to us doesn’t mean it’s new. ICD-10 was started in 1983 and completed in 1992. It’s been in use in some countries for 20 years.”
The U.S. version of ICD-10 was created through years of modifications, comment periods and revisions to add policies and procedures. The same will likely be necessary for ICD-11, meaning that even though it will be introduced in 2017, it won’t be ready to implement for several years.
“ICD-11 might be a reality in 2030, but we’re 15 years away at the least,” Mike said. “In fact, if it follows the same timeline as ICD-10, ICD-11 won’t be implemented until 2040. The ICD-9 code set is outdated as it is; there’s no way it will last until ICD-11 is ready.”
Some providers may rejoice at the thought of an extra decade or two to prepare for the change, but several experts recommend that to successfully transition to ICD-11, ICD-10 is a necessary stepping-stone. ICD-11 is built on ICD-10, so implementing the former without first transitioning to the latter would actually make the shift exponentially more difficult.
Skipping ICD-10 would also mean continuing to use ICD-9 codes, which were developed nearly 40 years ago and lack the specificity and data quality to support programs such as meaningful use and value-based reimbursements.
The sooner the U.S. adopts ICD-10, the better equipped the healthcare community will be to begin preparing for ICD-11 — and based on our slow adoption of ICD-10, we might need all the time we can get.