Last week, the American College of Physicians sent a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius suggesting that the agency use the proposed one-year delay of the ICD-10 compliance deadline to consider transitioning to the Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine-Clinical Terms, or SNOMED-CT, rather than the ICD-10 code sets, CMIO reports (Byers, CMIO, 5/18).
U.S. health care organizations are working to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets to accommodate codes for new diseases and procedures. The switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets means that health care providers and insurers will have to change out about 14,000 codes for about 69,000 codes.
In April, HHS announced that it would delay the deadline for complying with ICD-10 standards by one year, to Oct. 1, 2014. HHS said it decided to push back the compliance date partly in response to health care providers' concerns that they would not be able to meet the initial deadline.
The comment period on the new ICD-10 compliance date ended last week (iHealthBeat, 5/18).
ACP's Comment Letter
In the comment letter, Michael Zaroukian -- chair of ACP's Medical Informatics Committee -- said that the group supports the proposal to delay the ICD-10 compliance deadline and that the extra time creates "an opportunity for HHS and the health care community."
Zaroukian said that HHS should "consider modifying the scope for which ICD-10 is being deployed." He added, "While it is clear that coding with a classification system such as ICD-10 has benefits when it comes to compiling data for secondary purposes, it is generally acknowledged that a reference terminology such as SNOMED-CT is much more effective for accurately capturing the nuances of health conditions and clinical care" (CMIO, 5/18).
WEDI's Comment Letter
The Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange also sent a letter to CMS offering recommendations about the proposed delay for ICD-10 compliance.
Donald Bechtel, chair of WEDI, said the organization would support a single compliance deadline over staggered implementation "for the reasons set forth in the original rule and based on recommendations from a WEDI Policy Advisory Group held in September 2008."
WEDI plans to conduct surveys in 2012 and subsequent years to gauge the health care industry's progress in transitioning to ICD-10 code sets (Byers, CMIO, 5/21).