Press Release

Embargoed Until Contact

March 21, 2012

Sue Ducat
Director of Communications
(301) 841-9962


From Health Affairs


The Case for Delaying the Implementation of the New ICD-10 Coding System


Bethesda, MD -- “American health care has a love-hate relationship with the venerable International Classification of Diseases (ICD),” begins a new Web First commentary, released today as a Web First by Health Affairs. Since 1977 the United States has relied on the ICD, Ninth Revision, for both research and billing, and has planned to adopt the ICD, Tenth Revision (ICD-10-CM), this coming October, well behind many other countries. Recognizing that many providers are ill prepared for this major overhaul, the Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently announced that her department would explore postponing mandatory compliance. “Some industry groups reacted with dismay, and many providers with relief,” noted the authors. With medical practices now adjusting to the “meaningful use” of electronic health records, “simultaneously requiring the full adoption of ICD-10-CM imposes an unsustainable burden on many.”

There Are Good Reasons To Delay Implementing The New ICD-10 Coding System


By Christopher G. Chute, Stanley M. Huff, James A. Ferguson, James M. Walker, and John D. Halamka




Chute is a professor at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota; Huff is a professor at the University of Utah and also with Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City, Utah; Ferguson is with Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California; Walker is affiliated with Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania; and Halamka is professor and chief information officer at Harvard Medical School as well as chief information officer at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, both in Boston, Massachusetts.


The study will also appear in the April issue of Health Affairs.


In their commentary, the authors provide rationales for the delay, and they recommend a one-to-three-year postponement, because “it would be less costly and less resource intensive than extending a sanctioned dual-use period.” The next revision of the ICD, to be published in 2016, will depart from “one size fits all,” and the authors say it “has the capacity to create ‘linearizations’ from its core of cross-linked disease renderings and permits more natural classifications.” To avoid repeating the current situation when planning the conversion to ICD-11, they recommend policy makers give “careful thought to the full impact of the information processing challenges ahead.”

About Health Affairs

Health Affairs is the leading journal at the intersection of health, health care, and policy. Published by Project HOPE, the peer-reviewed journal appears each month in print, with additional Web First papers published periodically and health policy briefs published twice monthly at You can also find the journal on Facebook and Twitter. Read daily perspectives on Health Affairs Blog. Download weekly Narrative Matters podcasts on iTunes.

The full text of each Health Affairs Web First paper is available free of charge to all Web-site visitors for a two-week period following posting, after which it switches to pay-per-view for nonsubscribers. Web First papers are supported in part by a grant from The Commonwealth Fund.