ICD- 10 Delay Impacts
‘Okay, there is going to be a delay.’ So you lose some of that tension of keeping things moving,” she says. “Our steering group
has said keep marching, and so we are, but in a smart way,” Westhafer says.
Impact on Education
The ICD- 10 delay has caused some chaos for educators trying to
offer their HIM and coding students an up-to-date, but relevant,
education. Education programs have had to reevaluate their
ICD- 10 transition timelines and continue to teach both ICD- 9
and ICD- 10 to new students.
For example, educators at Alfred State College, based in Alfred, NY, have required students to learn both ICD-9-CM and
ICD-10-CM/PCS since early 2011. The plan was to stop teaching
ICD- 9 by late 2012 to ensure that students who graduate from
the two-year RHIT or one-year coding and reimbursement spe-
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cialist certificate programs could code ICD- 10 by October 2013.
With the delay, however, educators must continue to teach the
ICD- 9 coding system, a requirement unfair for both teachers
and students, according to Michelle Green, MPS, RHIA, CPC,
FAHIMA, a State University of New York distinguished teaching
professor at Alfred State College. Students must currently learn
ICD-9-CM, ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, CPT, and HCPCS level II
in their coding courses.
“I was willing to teach all of these coding systems, which is
really a burden on students, but I was willing to do it because
it was a temporary measure, and we knew it was going to end
fairly soon,” Green says. “Delaying implementation to October
1, 2014, means that students must continue to learn ICD-9-CM
with ICD-10-CM/PCS for an extra year. We took the government
at its word about an October 1, 2013 implementation date, and
educators appropriately prepared ourselves and our students.”
In a letter sent to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Green said
that it is important for educators to focus on teaching ICD- 10
since it is a superior code set, and that any delay in implementing ICD- 10 hurts students trying to prepare for their careers.
Splitting their effort between ICD- 9, an antiquated 30-year-
old classification system on the way out, and ICD- 10 is a disservice to students, Green says. It is very difficult for people new to
coding to learn multiple code sets at once.
Most facilities plan to offer multi-code set training until the
year before the new implementation deadline. At that point they
will switch to teaching only ICD- 10 so new graduates can enter
the workforce with ICD- 10 training.
Many students have expressed their disappointment with the
delay, Green says. Some put off coder training until the end of
their program in order to receive just an ICD- 10 education and
possibly get an edge in the marketplace. Now they must learn
all the coding systems and will likely need a refresher on ICD-
10 before the implementation deadline. Students graduating in
2012 and 2013 will likely lose some of their ICD- 10 training if
all they code with upon graduation is ICD- 9. To help graduates,
Alfred State College plans to offer a non-credit ICD-10-CM/PCS
refresher course that former students can take closer to the implementation deadline.
The delay will also have a financial impact on schools. Alfred
State College devoted 20 percent of its budget last year to the
ICD- 10 transition, spending thousands of dollars on training
faculty and redesigning its life science and medical terminology
courses that support coder training. Delaying implementation
will cost the college more money in training new educators and
redesigning their transition plan to account for the added time
that dual coding education is needed, Green says.
“In academia, you get a budget and there is limited funding,”
Credibility with students has also been impacted by the delay.
For years, educators have been assuring students that ICD- 10
would not be delayed. When the opposite happened, there is
the possible perception that educators “look like we don’t know
what we are talking about,” Green says.