Could an ICD-10 delay threaten national security?

If you think postponing the ICD-10 switchover deadline from Oct. 1 will only affect healthcare providers and software vendors, Juliet Santos of ICD-10 Monitor says, you're wrong — it could affect the safety of the country at large.

The reason behind the change to ICD-10 has been neglected in the face of the difficulty many providers and vendors are seeing, Ms. Santos argues: "We have fallen into the trap of working solely towards getting ICD-10 done and out of the way, since many are seeking only to finish what they have started and many more have announced that they have already tested and are ready to convert."

But there's still important alterations that ICD-10 is meant to handle, and those include national security.

Some of Ms. Santos' points to support her opinion that ICD-10 makes the country safer include:

1) It helps providers to respond better to major threats, like Ebola.
"ICD-10 allows us to track and monitor patients with diseases similar to Ebola, because the codes are specific, the severity of illness is detailed, and we can determine illness rates as well as death rates."

2) It better assists in monitoring national security itself.
"We cannot prevent, monitor, track, manage and control what we cannot see or find. Using ICD-9 is akin to having a blind side due to its non-specific and sometimes missing codes and an inability to quickly create new ones."

3) It improves patient safety and care.
"We can't improve population health and create new disease prevention models if we are unable to accurately track the severity of diseases in ICD-9. Technology has made great strides since 1980, so why would we entrust our nation's health to a coding system that is 34 years old?"

4) It is manageable.
"Unfreeze from the panic. Physician practices do not use all 13,000 diagnosis codes available in ICD-9, nor will they be required to use or know the 68,000 codes that are in ICD-10. The majority of the additional codes are due to laterality, which is not currently available in ICD-9."

For more ICD-10 news:

CMS extends deadline for ICD-10 volunteer end-to-end testing
CMS: 87% percent of ICD-10 test claims accepted
CMS announces ICD-10 end-to-end testing dates

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