Many people in the healthcare profession are familiar with ICD-9, and also familiar with the fact that it will be replaced by ICD-10 on October 1st, 2015. ICD-10 stands for International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems – 10th Revision.

This change is well overdue, as ICD-9 has been in effect for over 30 years. While ICD-9 has been useful, it can no longer keep up with today’s fast paced technological changes. It supports only 14,315 codes, while ICD-10 is set to support 69,101 codes. This massive increase in the number of codes will allow the service provider to be far more detailed and specific when entering the codes.

The new medical classification list, by the World Health Organization, is programmed to provide higher-quality information in all areas of the medical field. It will make it easier to keep track of diagnoses, patient abnormalities, complaints, and medical information. The code sets will lead to more efficient, accurate and informative data.

The biggest change being implemented in ICD-10 is the ability to keep up with new advances in the medical field. The alphanumeric format is designed to allow for future updates and revisions. This malleable system is less restricting and will stop the overlap and confusion that ICD-9 would cause. As a result, there will be endless opportunities to improve the system.

Structurally, the codes will be set up similarly to the codes of ICD-9, but will be more efficient than before. ICD-10 codes will range from 3-7 digits, allowing for two digits more than ICD-9. The very first digit will be alpha, including all letters except U. The next two digits will be numeric, and the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th digits can be either alpha or numeric. The decimal appears after the first three digits, as it does with ICD-9. After the decimal point, the next three digits represent etiology, anatomic site and severity. The last digit will be an extension, with any extra information.

While making the switch seems daunting to many healthcare professionals, the new system is designed to be easier and more practical to use. The improvements that are being made will prove to be extremely useful. It is understandable that many people are extremely apprehensive, but the effect that ICD-10 will have on medical documentation will be nothing but positive.

If you have any questions about converting to ICD-10, please contact Nancy Dolgin with New England Medical Billing.

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