ICD-10 Benefits – Where are they?

Posted on March 8, 2012 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

One of the interesting topics of discussion at HIMSS was around the delay of ICD-10. However, I have yet to find an answer to what I think is probably the most important question around ICD-10. I posted the question and some other thoughts related to the question on the EHR Guy’s passionate post about ICD-10. Here’s my question and comments:

“What are the true benefits to using ICD-10?”

I’ve read story after story about ICD-10 (including this post) and so far I’ve only seen people giving general lip service to the basic idea that more specifically quantified data will somehow have a benefit to the healthcare system. Darren in the comment above says, “The fact that ICD-10 helps so many electronic and quality initiatives right now, or as pointed out above, are, in fact, required to achieve them”

What are the electronic and quality initiatives to which he speaks? What are the true benefits that we’ll get if we go to ICD-10? I haven’t seen enough of these examples.

We could also look at this same question another way. The rest of the world has been using ICD-10 for a lot longer than us. What have been the benefits that the rest of the world has seen from their use of ICD-10 that we haven’t seen in the US since we’re still on ICD-9?

I’m not trying to say that there aren’t benefits. I’m just saying if there are, then why aren’t we hearing more stories with concrete examples of the benefits? If there are, I’d love to see them and make them more widely known.

The EHR Guy offered this reply:

What you are asking for is reasonable and fair.

I will post, in a future blog, examples of why migrating to ICD-10 has beneficial clinical quality outcomes other than the intended reimbursement aspect of it which has been the main purpose of implementing it here in the United States.

But in essence a deep specificity would eliminate the erroneous coding accompanied by bulk documentation to justify the claim to be reimbursed.

Achieving semantic interoperability with erroneous coding is impossible. I’ve been in aggregation projects where abstracting information from HL7 messages was futile because no one in the healthcare organization seemed to understand what was contained in them.

This will be a very lively topic for months to come. I look forward to your participation in the discussions.

I look forward to the EHR Guy offering some more concrete examples in future blog posts. Although, I think this question deserves much more attention. I’ll admit to not being an expert on ICD-10. I know enough to be dangerous. So, I’d love to hear some of the real life benefits that ICD-10 has provided other countries and/or the benefits the US will get from ICD-10 implementation.

If we don’t have more stories and example of these benefits, then instead the stories related to the cost and inconvenience of ICD-10 (which are easy to find) will dominate the conversation. If that’s the case, then we can be sure that ICD-10 will be delayed.