Friday, June 17, 2011

Hospitals: ICD-10 Switch Means the EHR Must Wait

The American Hospital Association sent a letter (PDF) to the Healthcare Information Technology (HIT) Policy Committee urging a delay in implementing stage 2 of Meaningful Use criteria for electronic medical records (EMRs), in large part because hospitals are otherwise busy in switching to ICD-10-CM.

Both ICD-10-CM and EMR adoption are unfunded mandates of the federal government, although there are incentives for EMR adoption (non-adoption will eventually result in penalties that come in the form of reduced reimbursements per service). To qualify for incentives for EMR adoption, hospitals must demonstrate "meaningful use", and the federal government has set criteria for it. However, the criteria will become more stringent over time. Currently hospitals must meet "Stage 1" criteria.

The letter is about when "Stage 2" meaningful-use criteria should go into effect. Hospitals are saying that the government should delay stage 2 criteria, because the burden of switching to ICD-10-CM is too high.

As we reported here, hospitals previously asked the government to back off on meaningful use because of the switch to ICD-10-CM.

Of course, we think the EMR is more important, and that ICD-10-CM should take the back seat. Nevertheless, it illustrates one significant effect of the ICD-10-CM switch: delayed adoption of EMRs.