Congress delays switch to new system

Published 7:00 am Friday, April 4, 2014

INFORMATIONAL FUN: Staff members at Highland Community Hospital dress up as Princess Leia and a Star Wars themed character, ICD 10 to help educate employees on the hospital switching to the ICD 10 coding program.  Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

INFORMATIONAL FUN: Staff members at Highland Community Hospital dress up as Princess Leia and a Star Wars themed character, ICD 10 to help educate employees on the hospital switching to the ICD 10 coding program.
Photo by Alexandra Hedrick

After working for several years to prepare for a switch to a new computer coding system, scheduled for implementation on October 1, 2014, Highland Community Hospital will have to wait another year due to the passing of House Bill 4302 through the United States House of Representatives and Senate.

The hospital has been planning and preparing to upgrade from the 9th edition of International Classification of Disease system to the 10th edition, said Highland Community Hospital Administrator Mark Stockstill.

Stockstill said ICD-10 is a system of codes used to identify thousands of medical terms that describe the diagnosis that a doctor may assign to an illness or injury.

The current system lists about 19,000 codes, but the new system will more than double that amount, Stockstill said.

He said while the patients might not notice the change, it will greatly affect the work of physicians, billing and clinical staff.

The American Health Information Management Association said in an article, “The delay of ICD-10 impacts much more than just coded medical bills, but also quality, population health, and other programs that expected to start using ICD-10 codes in October.”

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services estimates the one-year delay will cost the healthcare industry anywhere from $1 billion to $6.6 billion, in addition to the costs already incurred from a previous one-year delay.

The American Health Information Management Association reports that many educational coding programs recently switched to teaching only ICD 10 to their students, leaving these students without ICD 9 knowledge.

Despite the delay, the hospital moved forward with some promotional tools to inform employees of the upcoming changes.

On Tuesday morning, members of the hospital dressed up as Princess Leia and a Star Wars themed character called ICD-10 to promote the changes and hand out information on ICD 10.

“Even though it’s a serious subject, we try to have a little fun when we can,” said Michelle Leslie, director of marketing for Forrest General.