ICD-10 TransitionIn the ICD-10 transition there is only one question that is relevant. Will it happen or not? If you think not, then you need read no further. Of course, you would be in the minority. Practically everyone in the healthcare industry believes the transition to ICD-10 is going to happen, the only real question is “when”.

With Y2K we actually had an advantage – the date could not change. With ICD-10 the date can…and has, again!

The AMA in its infinite wisdom flexed its muscle and pressured the government to call a time out in the process. The government, a paragon of productivity, has decided to do something. What, we do not know. When, we do not know.

To take a project of this size, which has been in the works for years, and put it on hold does a major disservice to those who are doing the work to make the transition. And unfortunately rewards those who chose to ignore it. It seems like a sorry state of affairs.

The ICD-10 deadline is not a surprise to anybody. The rest of the civilized world has been using the code set for years. The Oct. 1, 2013 deadline has been in place for years. The healthcare industry has been talking about it for years. Perhaps that is the problem.

In the healthcare industry we talk and talk and talk; and then scramble to do the work. Like students who procrastinate until the due date looms we wait until the last minute and then complain about the amount of work that needs to be done. Of course, to add credence to our arguments we state there is too much other activity going on; we couldn’t possibly fit it all in.

My observation is that healthcare has been in this state for at least 30 years and there does not seem to be any end in sight. Waiting for a respite in workload is really an argument to not do the transition, since there will not be a respite-ever.

This all being said, it is obvious to me, and many others in the industry, that there is only one logical course of action. Just Do It!

If you do the work to transition to ICD-10 and the date does not change, then you are in good shape and early. If you do the work and the date moves further out, you are blessed with more testing time, more time to insure vendors and payers are up to speed, more time to hone coder skills and minimize productivity loss, and more time to get it right.

Lastly, if you haven’t started and now are waiting for a new date, then shame on you.