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It's official: ICD-10 compliance date now Oct. 1, 2015


Physicians officially have until Oct. 1, 2015, to transition to the ICD-10 code set, according to a final rule issued Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The delay offers an extra year to prepare for implementation of the costly code set, developed by the World Health Organization and adapted for use in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). 

A federal law signed in April prevented HHS from implementing ICD-10 before Oct. 1, 2015, and the final rule made it official. Prior to passage of the federal law, physicians only had six remaining months to prepare for the implementation deadline of Oct. 1, 2014. Those who had not begun preparing their practices would likely face considerable cash-flow problems and other serious administrative issues.

CMS has implemented a “comprehensive testing approach,” according to a news release issued Thursday, including end-to-end testing in 2015. End-to-end testing will be available in January, April and July next year, giving about 2,550 volunteers the chance to help determine the preparedness of the industry and their practices for this transition. CMS said more information about end-to-end testing will be available soon.

Physicians now have slightly more than a year to work with software vendors, and CMS has more time to iron out issues that arise prior to implementation, minimizing expected cash-flow disruptions that could hinder the provision of patient care. CMS has estimated that claims denial rates could increase 100-200 percent in the early stages of coding with ICD-10.

Physicians can take advantage of the AMA’s free ICD-10 resources, including tip sheets that offer guidance on completing an impact assessment, determining training needs, conducting testing and improving documentation 

Additional resources and training from the AMA Store can help physicians prepare as well, including a downloadable data file of the complete ICD-10 2015 code set to use in testing practice management systems and a documentation guide that provides essential training. Also available are online documentation training and live training events set for September, November and December.

The AMA continues to urge regulators to ease this physician burden, citing the dramatically high implementation costs of ICD-10, coupled with an already onerous regulatory environment. However, practice management experts caution that physicians now should begin preparing their practices for the transition to ICD-10.