Once upon a time, there was a deadline…

… and it was pushed back again.  Surprised? YES! (…and NO) Frustrated? Absolutely!

How many times did you hear it, see it, read it? Reassurances – as recently as a month ago – from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that the ICD-10 code transition would not be delayed beyond October 1st of this year.

Stakeholders across the healthcare continuum are both surprised and frustrated that the new ICD-10 transition date is now October 1, 2015. Nobody saw this coming because it never “materialized” until a few days ago, in secret, behind closed doors. The ICD-10 deadline, and the idea of delaying it another year, is part of the new legislative “patch” that delays by one year the 24 percent reduction in Medicare reimbursements that was scheduled to take affect today. April fools? No… unfortunately not.

This newest temporary patch happened because Congress has tried and failed for more than a year to pass a permanent bipartisan solution to repeal the current Medicare sustainable growth rate (SGR) formula. They simply ran out of time. Congress also knows that providers from small and medium sized practices comprise an important part of the national constituency. These same providers are not happy that a permanent Medicare SGR solution has not been found. To help assuage that discontent and maintain a positive standing with providers across the nation, Congress attached a one year delay to the ICD-10 transition.

It’s not the only deadline out there…

So, understanding how this happened – the ICD-10 Delay to October 1, 2015 – is pretty straight forward. What’s it mean? How should you react? Our executive vice president and general manager, Michael Lovett, showed the way in a news release this morning that positions the ICD-10 delay in a broader context of the multiple, ongoing healthcare reform deadlines that make up our “normal” in healthcare IT. He urges all NextGen Healthcare clients to stay the course on their preparations for ICD-10. He said the delay is not impacting the commitment of NextGen Healthcare to ensure its clients can meet all upcoming regulatory deadlines.

“We as a healthcare community must now look beyond the delay and focus on other reform initiatives as well as looming Meaningful Use deadlines,” he said.

Be smart when setting your new ICD-10 deadline

Please. Don’t say October 1, 2015. Yes, that’s the new ICD-10 deadline. It’s just shouldn’t be your new ICD-10 deadline. Yes, effective today: The ICD-10 transition clock has been reset to 19 months. Here’s your chance to use that time well.

  • If you never really had an ICD-10 transition plan… here’s your chance
  • If you still don’t know the impact ICD-10 codes will have on your practice… here’s your chance
  • If you don’t know what “dual coding” is… here’s your chance
  • If you didn’t make ICD-10 transition cash reserve contingency plans… here’s your chance
  • If you haven’t upgraded your systems to ONC 2014 Edition Certified HIT… here’s your chance
  • If you don’t know your ICD-10 workflow and staff training needs… here’s your chance
  • If you thought you were running out of time… here’s your chance

Author Karen Lamb sums it up pretty well: “A year from now you may wish you had started today.”