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ICD-10: Implementation Controversy

Posted 3:30 PM by

Implementation and use of the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition, Clinical Modification/Procedure Coding System (ICD-10) continues to be a controversy among health care professionals. This debate will only continue with the one year delay in implementation by the U.S Department of Health and Human Services

The ICD-10 controversy lies within the details; the sheer volume of codes can be overwhelming to coders and physicians. The current ICD-9 system has approximately 18,000 codes that will grow by more than seven times to 140,000 codes in ICD-10.      

Critics argue that the volume of codes and detailed reportable information will increase health care costs while yielding lower quality in patient care. It is certain that costs have risen and will continue to rise with increased IT demands and staff training expenses. Expert’s project implementation costs will approximate $27,000 per full-time physician. Furthermore, critics believe physicians will spend more time being compliant with ICD-10 and less time with patients, which will result in less quality of patient care.      

On the other hand, proponents argue the detailed codes will increase the quality of care in the long term and provide valuable data to researchers. Certainly, the level of detail captured by the ICD-10 will be of great value to public health and health care researchers. This data can be used to monitor and improve patient care.      

Arguments by critics and proponents raise the following questions. Do increased short-term costs to implement ICD-10 outweigh the potential long-term benefits of improved patient care due to better research data? Only time can answer this question. In the meantime, the controversy of ICD-10 will continue.

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