What Exactly is ICD-10?

ICD-10 refers to the clarification of diseases and mortality; aiming to create an international standard in disease presentation.  ICD refers to International Classification of Diseases, and this is the tenth revision of such codes.  The revisions themselves are necessary to keep up with the ever changing advancements in medical knowledge.  Often these revisions can create issues with mortality comparability between revisions that split a cause of death between different categories.  But nevertheless, the ICD-10 is a vital tool for the World Health Organization (WHO) in reporting and analyzing mortality.

The major differences seen between ICD-9 and ICD -10 are as follows;  “the addition of information relevant to ambulatory and managed care encounters; expanded injury codes; the creation of combination diagnosis/symptom codes to reduce the number of codes needed to fully describe a condition; the addition of sixth and seventh characters; incorporation of common 4th and 5th digit sub classifications; laterality; and greater specificity in code assignment.”  (Center for Disease Control)

Although the date of implementation of ICD-10 has been pushed back, practices should be well under way in their transition plan.

“Physicians will be dealing with adopting the new coding sets on top of numerous other Medicare incentive programs”, said Steven J. Stack, MD, chair of the AMA Board of Trustees. ICD-10 alone “requires physicians and their office staff to contend with 68,000 codes — a fivefold increase from the current 13,000 codes,” he said.

How to Prepare for ICD-10

The AMA put out a four category process for practice preparation:

■Organize the implementation effort (two to four weeks). During this time, practices should get familiar with ICD-10 requirements, identify personnel who will be key in the conversion, and set a preliminary budget for the work.

■Analyze the impact of implementation (two to three months). In this process, a practice looks at what work processes and electronic systems used in ICD-9 will need conversion. It also looks at what workflow changes might be necessary under ICD-10.

■Contact system vendors (one to two months, and ongoing). Practices will need to contact their electronic health system vendors to find out when they will update their systems to ICD-10, how much it will cost, and whether any new hardware will be necessary.

■Budget for implementation costs (two to four weeks, and ongoing). With the preparation well under way, at this point, practices can get a sense of what ICD-10 conversion really will cost.

We will explore preparation techniques in a future article; preparation is the key to minimizing the impact on your practice and bottom line.

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