Updated on: March 16, 2016

Facing the Facts: Many Lag Behind in ICD-10 Preparation and May Not Be Ready, Says AHIMA President

Original story posted on: April 29, 2013

Many things about ICD-10-CM implementation concern Kathleen Frawley, the president and chair of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), who joined last week’s Talk Ten Tuesday broadcast from the ICD-10/CAC Summit in Baltimore.

Not surprisingly, she is concerned, as are many in the industry, with the fact that many people with whom she spoke at the summit are still in the planning and assessment phase—even though implementation is just 18 months away.


“My concern is that when we get to the AHIMA conference in October, we will only be 11 months out, and they are sitting on the sideline,” she said. Her belief is that those lagging behind assume that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will delay implementation, just as it did before. However, CMS has made it very clear that there isn’t going to be a delay.

Frawley is not alone in this concern, as vendors too have expressed alarm about how far behind some people are.

“I don’t know how we get the message out to the industry that we should be much further along than we are. I am concerned about the people who think there will be a delay,” she says. “I think that there will be organizations that will be in a difficult situation as we get closer” to the implementation date.

Providers and Finances

Two other things are especially clear to Frawley: Physicians are “really struggling” with the whole concept of moving to ICD-10, and there has not been enough conversation about the financial impact of the implementation.

“Because physicians have no HIM professionals in their practices, they don’t understand the implications,” she said.

From another perspective, hospital leaders face many challenges, and that’s a big problem. For example, organizations want to attest to meaningful use in order to get their incentive payments. Because of the limited resources, they are focused on the deployment of the electronic health record (EHR) to achieve that goal and have, as Frawley said, “put I-10 on the back burner”—even though HIM professionals are telling their CFOs and CIOs that forward movement is needed.

For many, the financial impact is the elephant in the room—one of the biggest issues but one that few want to discuss. Healthcare providers who are not ready for ICD-10 when the deadline arrives could be out on the curb.

As Frawley says, “Where does that leave our communities when hospitals must close? Three-fourths of the attendees here were here last year, and many are early adopters. These are people who have been planning for two or three years and have done all of the things that AHIMA recommends, and they’re talking about challenges that no one ever thought of.

“Somehow we’ve got to get the message to the C-suite that this is really coming, and there will be no delay.”

To help with the transition, AHIMA’s website (www.ahima.org) offers numerous resources, including recordings of all of the sessions at the summit. The organization also will include coverage in the June edition of the Journal of AHIMA.

Disclaimer: Every reasonable effort was made to ensure the accuracy of this information at the time it was published. However, due to the nature of industry changes over time we cannot guarantee its validity after the year it was published.
Janis Oppelt

Janis keeps the wheel of words rolling for Panacea®'s publishing division. Her roles include researching, writing, and editing newsletters, special reports, and articles for RACMonitor.com and ICD10Monitor.com; coordinating the compliance question of the week; and contributing to the annual book-update process. She has 20 years of experience in topics related to Medicare regulations and compliance.