Ann Arbor, Michigan, February 21, 2012 – The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) today submitted a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, regarding her recent announcement that HHS will initiate a process to postpone a compliance date for International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition diagnosis and procedure codes (ICD-10).

In the letter, CHIME strongly urged Secretary Sebelius to move quickly and decisively in setting a new compliance date for converting to ICD-10. CHIME said that a prolonged delay to ICD-10 implementation, or more specifically, prolonged uncertainty about the timing and details of a delay, will create more problems than it would solve.

“Everyone in the healthcare IT world is working against numerous deadlines,” said George Hickman, executive vice president and chief information officer at Albany, New York-based Albany Medical Center. “But it’s vitally important for those of us planning, budgeting and implementing these projects to know when that deadline is coming. This announcement has introduced an unnecessary level of uncertainty into our lives.”

CHIME encouraged HHS to remain committed to ICD-10 because many organizations have made, or are planning for, substantial investments in technology, training and education. The code set will also introduce a new level of data points for doctors and hospitals that will ultimately lead to better outcomes.

“The ICD-10 code set will give providers more granular information that will, in turn, allow us to better tell the patient’s story,” the letter said. “This will lead to better outcomes for patients and increased innovation for the healthcare delivery system as a whole.”

The Secretary’s announcement indicated a possibility that different segments of the healthcare industry would be subject to different compliant dates.

CHIME cautioned against this approach, urging HHS to keep the same compliance date for both physicians and hospitals. “In order for the ICD-10 conversion to go as smoothly as possible, all segments of the provider community need to be in lockstep,” the letter said.

To help HHS develop an appropriate path for ICD-10 moving forward, CHIME offered its assistance and expertise in order to optimize the positive impacts of ICD-10 and make the transition as smooth as possible.