ACP Urges HHS to Consider Using SNOMED-CT For Coding ofClinical Problems

Asks HHS to use ICD-10 implementation delay for consideration of implementation

May 17, 2012

Washington - The American College of Physicians (ACP) today urged the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to use the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) implementation delay to consider specifying the use of Systemized Nomenclature of Medicine - Clinical Term (SNOMED-CT), rather than ICD-10, for coding problems in all situations. ACP's recommendation was part of a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius commenting on the ICD-10 proposed rule compliance date.

HHS is seeking input from physician organizations in order to effectively distribute education and guidance materials to physicians and other clinicians for a new diagnosis system.

"Like HHS, ACP is concerned that the industry will not be ready to transition to ICD-10 by October 1, 2013," Michael H. Zaroukian, MD, PHD, FACP, FHIMSS, chair of ACP's Medical Informatics Committee, said. "Physicians are caught in a dilemma of having to simultaneously implement a multitude of health care reform initiatives, including a health transaction format, electronic prescribing, Physician Quality Reporting System, meaningful use, accountable care organizations, patient centered medical homes, and electronic health records, Dr. Zaroukian noted. "This is an overwhelmingly complex stew of new regulations, requirements, incentives, and penalties - all of which carry their own costs to human and financial resources."

ACP supports the Secretary's decision to delay the compliance date for ICD-10 until October 1, 2014. The College believes that a delay is necessary to avoid the pressing burden that an earlier compliance date would cause.

"ACP views the proposed delay as an opportunity for HHS and the health care community," Dr. Zaroukian said. "ACP also recommends that HHS consider modifying the scope for which ICD-10 is being deployed. While it is clear that coding with a classification system such as ICD-10 has benefits when it comes to compiling data for secondary purposes, it is generally acknowledged that a reference terminology such as SNOMED-CT is much more effective for accurately capturing the nuances of health conditions and clinical care."

Today's three-page ACP letter concluded by offering further information and perspective if HHS feels it is needed in its consideration.


The American College of Physicians is the largest medical specialty organization and the second-largest physician group in the United States. ACP members include 132,000 internal medicine physicians (internists), related subspecialists, and medical students. Internists specialize in the prevention, detection, and treatment of illness in adults. Follow ACP on Twitter and Facebook.

David Kinsman, (202) 261-4554
Jacquelyn Blaser, (202) 261-4572