Submitted on Thu, 2014-05-08
By Bonnie Lu

Use the latest ICD-10 delay to refine and relaunch your implementation strategy.

ICD-10 Delayed Until 2015

On March 31st, the Senate voted on a line item hidden away in a Medicare bill that pushed back the deadline for ICD-10 implementation for the fourth time, this time to at least October of 2015. The move surprised many and elicited a wide spectrum of reactions from healthcare organizations of all types.

The most recent 12-month delay comes at a pivotal time for local health departments. Uncertainty over the effects of The Affordable Care Act and the constant threat of dwindling funding coupled with the extra resources needed for the ICD-10 transition have put local health in a tough situation. Just because the federal government keeps pushing ICD-10 doesn’t mean you should too. Stay the course and follow these four tips to make the most of the extra time you’ve been given.

Four Steps for Local Health Departments to Stay on Track with ICD-10 Implementation

Once the ICD-10 switch is flipped, there’s no going back. When ICD-10 becomes required and you don’t code claims correctly, you won’t see reimbursements. Although October 2015 may seem far away, health departments should think strategically about their next steps. Maximize this year-long delay by optimizing the funding and resources available to implement ICD-10 without having an impact on daily operations.

Here are 4 things you should be doing today to meet the October 2015 ICD-10 deadline:

1. Local Health Departments Should Audit Where They Are in The ICD-10 Implementation Process

The unfortunate consequence of the delay isn’t just a loss in data and momentum. Healthcare organizations that were set to launch on schedule have already spent significant resources and may not have it in their budget to push testing back another year.

For agencies that were on schedule to launch in 2014, this would be a good opportunity to do an assessment and pinpoint resources available. Identifying the parts of the ICD-10 implementation process that can be moved forward or held back can help health officers juggle ICD-10 with other projects. This small reprieve could help you allocate some extra resources to alleviate some issues in other areas of your facility, but don’t let it get you behind!

For agencies that weren’t ready for the 2014 launch, this would be a good opportunity to examine what happened. What can you do so that you’re not in the same position next year? What additional resources do you need to complete the project? Did other projects take priority? Bringing in a qualified third party to help with your implementation could be the route to take this time if you didn’t before.

2. Local Health Departments Should Explore Partnerships

Many Health departments are partnering with neighboring agencies or those at the state level to manage ICD-10 compliance. This may also be a good time to reach out to public health leaders in your community and discuss how to pool resources for everyone’s benefit. Having those conversations today will greatly improve your implementation planning and allow time for training and testing prior to the new deadline.

3. Local Health Departments Should Set New Project Milestones

It’s tempting to put ICD-10 implementation on the back burner and not think about it until 2015. Now is the time to completely reevaluate your project plan and set realistic milestones. Talking with staff and setting project milestones that are more attainable will keep the project on schedule and staff accountable.

For example, if your agency felt that there wasn’t enough time for staff training scheduled in 2014, this delay is an ideal time to reset those dates so that adequate training can take place.

4. Local Health Departments Should Communicate with Vendors and Partners

If you haven’t spoken to a private sector organization about assisting you with your ICD-10 implementation, now is the perfect time. The delay provides time to speak with an implementation expert and discuss your strategy. Even if you don’t need outside assistance, bouncing your plan off a third-party organization will validate our assumptions and provide an opportunity to address unknown gaps or issues. 

If you have contracted a vendor or partner for assistance, don’t forget that they have been impacted by the ICD-10 delay as well. It’s important to get an understanding of whether their implantation plan has changed and what that means for your organization. Make sure you take they time to discuss if they have the resources allocated to complete your project on time and on budget. If they cannot provide you with a straight answer, now is the perfect time to begin researching other partners.


While it’s tempting to put ICD-10 on the back burner, local health departments should accept this gift of a year-long delay and begin planning for stress-free transition by 2015. Making the most of this time, will have a huge impact on your organization’s time and resources next summer.


Sign up for a free evaluation of your progress today or schedule a meeting to learn more about how our claims management experts can help your public health department prepare for the new ICD-10 deadline.

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