Nemour Children's CEO Dr. David Bailey: ICD-10 delays detrimental to patients' health

Transitioning to ICD-10 isn't just about updating codes and catching up with the rest of the world — it can also improve healthcare providers' ability to do their jobs accurately and with a high level of quality, according to David Bailey, MD, president and CEO of Jacksonville, Fla.-based Nemours Children's Health System.

In a contributed piece for The Hill, Dr. Bailey writes that repeated delays in implementing ICD-10 have led to stalls in research and data sharing that are critical to patient care. He mentions that some ICD-9 codes don't allow physicians to specify which side of the body an ailment afflicts and sometimes groups unrelated diseases into common code categories.

"As a physician and CEO of Nemours Children's Health System, I hold steadfast to certain crucial principles about our clinical systems: They must promote transparency, usability, data integrity and quality," Dr. Bailey writes. "The updated version has long been used internationally and would be a vital step forward for patients in improving quality measurement, clinical research, and public health surveillance. ICD-10 would also allow U.S. physicians to use their full knowledge of conditions to make the correct diagnosis and describe patients' progress."

Dr. Bailey offers a specific example from Nemours Children's. He writes that at his hospital, physicians treat two separate congenital conditions, one which affects the kidneys and one which affects the brain, but they have the same code in ICD-9. "This means our researchers cannot learn the very latest methods for improving therapies and outcomes from others for two very different diseases. When you care for the sickest of a population, this is a big deal, a really big deal," he writes.

Additionally, as the U.S. uses ICD-9 while the rest of the world uses ICD-10, American physicians and researchers can't share data on a global scale, hindering efforts to study rare conditions, Dr. Bailey writes.

"At a time when healthcare providers and leaders across the nation are working diligently to increase access and efficiency, improve care quality and control costs, relying on ICD-9 no longer makes sense," writes Dr. Bailey. "The promise of big data for healthcare in this country is shackled by not having the ability to capture more robust information and provide the best care for children and adults. As healthcare providers and as a nation, we have an obligation to our patients to insist on no further delays."

More articles on ICD-10:

10 important ICD-10 questions to ask your EHR vendor
Conquering the hospital-physician chasm: Use ICD-10 as a bridge to foster collaboration
House bill seeks 18-month transition period into ICD-10

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