Ten Reasons to Not Delay ICD-10

This week AHIMA announced it will reach out to leaders at the Department of Health and Human Services and urge there be no delay in the implementation of ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. [Feb. 23: read AHIMA’s letter to Secretary Sebelius.]

“We recommend that HHS reach out to the full healthcare community and gather more information about the great strides many have achieved— in good faith—since the ICD-10 deadline was set in January 2009,” said AHIMA CEO Lynne Thomas Gordon, quoted in a statement.

Further, AHIMA encouraged the healthcare community to continue its implementation planning and not let up its efforts.

In a statement released today, AHIMA offered 10 reasons not to delay ICD-10 implementation.

Ten Reasons We Need ICD-10 Now
  1. It Enhances Quality Measures. Without ICD-10 data, serious gaps will remain in the healthcare community’s ability to extract important patient health information needed for physicians and others to measure quality care.
  2. Research Capabilities Will Improve Patient Care. Data could be used in a more meaningful way to enable better understanding of complications, better design of clinically robust algorithms, and better tracking of the outcomes of care. Greater detail offers the ability to discover previously-unrecognized relationships or uncover phenomenon such as incipient epidemics early.
  3. Significant Progress Has Already Been Made. For several years, hospitals and healthcare systems, health plans, vendors and academic institutions have been preparing in good faith to put systems in place to transition to ICD-10. A delay would cause an unnecessary setback.
  4. Education Programs Are Underway. To ready the next generation of HIM professionals, academic institutions have set their curriculum for two-year, four-year, and graduate programs to include ICD-10.
  5. Other Healthcare Initiatives Need ICD-10. ICD-10 is the foundation needed to support other national healthcare initiatives such as meaningful use, value-based purchasing, payment reform, quality reporting and accountable care organizations. Electronic health record systems being adopted today are ICD-10 compatible. Without ICD-10, the value of these other efforts is greatly diminished.
  6. It Reduces Fraud. With ICD-10, the detail of health procedures will be easier to track, reducing opportunities for unscrupulous practitioners to cheat the system.
  7. It Promotes Cost Effectiveness. More accurate information will reduce waste, lead to more accurate reimbursement and help ensure that healthcare dollars are used efficiently.

If ICD-10 Is Delayed:

  1. Resources Will Be Lost. For the last three years, the healthcare community has invested millions of dollars analyzing their systems, aligning resources and training staff for the ICD-10 transition.
  2. Costs Will Increase. A delay will cause increased implementation costs, as many healthcare providers and health plans will need to maintain two systems (ICD-9 and ICD-10). Delaying ICD-10 increases the cost of keeping personnel trained and prepared for the transition. Other systems, business processes, and operational elements also will need upgrading. More resources will be needed to repeat some implementation activities if ICD-10 is delayed.
  3. Jobs Will Be Lost. To prepare for the transition, many hospitals and healthcare providers have hired additional staff whose jobs will be affected if ICD-10 is delayed.

And Finally…

We Can’t Wait for ICD-11. The foundations of ICD-11 rest on ICD-10 and the foundation must be laid before a solid structure can be built. ICD-11 will require the development and integration of a new clinical modification system. Even under ideal circumstances, ICD-11 is still several years away from being ready for implementation in the United States.

Download a PDF of the list.


  1. Thank you for a concise list of compelling reasons for needing ICD-10 now, or frankly, yesterday. I’m hoping the broader health care community response to HHS will show how critical it is to move forward without delay. Thanks for continuing to lead on this.

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  2. I am concerned about ICD 10. I am in an HIT program, I will complete it in 3/2013. We are not really being taught ICD 10 and I am afraid that when i do finish, I wont know ICD 10. What do you think about this? My school said it is because most of the student in the HIT program will graduate before ICD 10 is initiated. I do not relly see how this matters? It is eminent, and we should be learning it now!

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  3. ICD-10 should have been in effect years ago! We are so far behind other countries! I’m so looking forward to the ICD-10 because it is much more detailed for more accurate coding. The 10 reasons why we need to move forward with this are good reasons to move ahead. Let’s not delay this any longer!

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