Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Doctors: ICD-10 Switch Inhibits "Meaningful Use" of EMRs

For a brief introduction to federal incentives for adoption of electronic medical records (EMRs), see yesterday's post.

In response to a request for comments on proposed rules for meaningful use, over 80 physician organizations joined forces behind a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT). This letter outlines the unanimous opinion of these organizations on what the "meaningful use" criteria for EMRs should be.

The 80 organizations include the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American College of Radiology, the American College of Surgeons, the American College of Physicians, and numerous state medical societies.

In an attachment to the letter, these doctors' organizations note that in setting the timing of EMR implementation, ONCHIT should ...Factor in the Implementation of Version 5010, ICD-10, and Other Related Compliance Deadlines.

The attachment goes on to say:

The health care industry, including physicians, will be migrating to the next version of HIPAA electronic transactions standards,Version 5010, by January 1, 2012. Moreover, the transition from using ICD-9 to ICD-10 codes must occur by October 1, 2013 which is expected to be an even more complex undertaking than the adoption of the first version of HIPAA standards (4010) and the transition to use of the National Provider Identifier (NPI). The implementation timeframe must factor in vendor, physician, and other health care partner readiness for all of these significant transitions that will occur simultaneously with the incorporation of HHS’ recommended standards for qualifying EHRs.

Which ultimately means that physicians, in addition to hospitals, expect the switch to ICD-10-CM to slow them down significantly with respect to becoming "meaningful users" of EMRs.

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