The American Medical Association (“AMA”) has released a new report, prepared by Nachimson Advisors, that estimates the cost of implementing the ICD-10 medical coding system. The ICD, short for the International Classification of Diseases and Health Problems, is a list of procedures and classifications developed by the WHO.
The ICD codes serve as a standardized system of identifying medical issues worldwide. ICD-10 will replace ICD-9, which has been used in the US since the late 1970s. The Department of Health and Human Services has mandated that the ICD-10 code set be used by all professionals starting on October 1, 2014.
The AMA report estimates that the change to ICD-10, which will require upgrading electronic health records and management systems, could cost small physician practices up to about $226,000, and could cost large practices up to $8 million. The same firm compiled estimates for transition costs in 2008, and came up with much lower numbers – between around $83,000 and $3 million, depending on the size of the physician practice.
The drastic increase is attributed to the fact that the “regulatory environment for physicians has changed dramatically.” The report specifically identifies the requirement that physicians use electronic health records and practice management systems as changes that directly contributed to the higher estimates.