ICD-10 has been delayed, again. The rest of the world has been using ICD-10 for many years, benefiting from improving quality of care and ensuring clarity and communications of patients' clinical diagnoses.

With ICD-10, we would have the ability to truly understand the health of our population. The senate's decision however, means we are continuing to use ICD-9 when it simply doesn't have a rich evolving vocabulary needed to describe a patient's disease states. Not to mention that we have run out of numbers for new ICD-9 codes to allow for evolution of our understanding of disease processes.

It's clear that healthcare organizations are faced with competing priorities this year, as many are working toward value-based payment models of care and grappling with the reporting requirements of ACOs while also working to meet Meaningful Use Stage II – inevitably to be followed by MU Stage III. The combination of these initiatives plus the introduction of ICD-10, made for an overwhelming situation for many providers, even though there are so many benefits that flow from making the changes.

In spite of the stress involved, up to 60% of providers have reported they were making good progress in preparing to transition to ICD-10 by October 2014, with the most sophisticated organizations using the new codes already. Those organizations will have to continue synching back to ICD-9 for at least another 18 months purely for billing purposes.

Admittedly, small providers without ample IT resources are struggling to keep up and this is a real concern. However for both small and large providers, the delay simply means putting off a change that needs to be made.

Health information exchanges (HIEs) and by extension all the clinicians in a patient's care team regardless of where the patient is seen, will benefit from the more robust and rich coding associated with ICD-10. To understand and improve population health while meeting new demands to contain costs, we need to understand and communicate patients' symptoms properly, which in turn implies the need for more advanced coding of ICD-10. The move to ICD-10 is a quality initiative that will help take unnecessary cost out of our healthcare system. Care quality, research and population health depend upon the ability to know exactly what's going on with our patient populations.

We know that ICD-10 is a key improvement measure for our healthcare system. It's time to make the change! With the improved structure and sustainability of ICD-10, we can take care coordination to the next level and gain a comprehensive understanding of our population's health. This in turn will lead to greater clinical and quality achievements, so let's ensure we make the new deadline when that is set.