The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates voted today to work vigorously to stop implementation of ICD-10, a coding set that has about 69,000 codes and will replace the 14,000 ICD-9 diagnosis codes currently in use. The activity came during a closed session of the group's semiannual policy meeting.
"The implementation of ICD-10 will create significant burdens on the practice of medicine with no direct benefit to individual patients' care," said Peter W. Carmel, MD, AMA president. “At a time when we are working to get the best value possible for our healthcare dollar, this massive and expensive undertaking will add administrative expense and create unnecessary workflow disruptions. The timing could not be worse as many physicians are working to implement EHRs into their practices. We will continue working to help physicians keep their focus where it should be—on their patients."
The organization cited a 2008 study that found a small three-physician practice would need to spend $83,290 to implement ICD-10, and a 10-physician practice would spend $285,195 to make the coding change to attest to the potential administrative costs.
The AMA also adopted new policies on the health insurance exchanges created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. New policies include AMA support for using the open marketplace model for exchanges to increase competition and maximize patient choice, and the involvement of state medical associations in the legislative and regulatory processes concerning state HIEs.
The new policy also asked the AMA to advocate for the inclusion of actively practicing physicians and patients in health insurance exchange governing structures and for developing systems that allow for real-time patient eligibility information. The policies were adopted as part of a report from the AMA's Council on Medical Service.
Finally, new AMA policy encouraged the availability of portable medical identification alert systems for patients. “Virtual medical identification systems allow emergency medical personnel to access a patient's medical history and emergency contact phone numbers through a pin number that can be attached to clothing, keys, or stored in a wallet,” the Chicago-based organization stated. “They allow emergency responders and medical staff in emergency departments immediate access to important health and family contact information for patients who are enrolled in these systems.”