January 16, 2014

Why ICD-10 is Replacing ICD-9

For many ICD -10 has been received as another medical billing headache, but for others this new medical procedure coding system implemented by the World Health Organization will increase accuracy for procedures and improve their filing for health care personnel, Medicare and Medicaid alike. Below we explore why ICD-10 is being introduced and how you as a medical professional can use these new codes to your advantage.

Why the Transition?
Did you know that ICD-9 is turning the corner on being a 30-year-old set of codes? As the medical profession developed new procedures over the years, there were many amendments and modifications to include new or changed procedures, but this has since left the system bogged down and out of room. When you look at the entirety of ICD-9, you will find 13,600 different codes that have been amassed over a 30-year period. With the brisk changes in the medical industry, we needed a new set to increase accuracy of procedures and the coverage that a patient will receive. ICD-10 is a behemoth in comparison and can offer the accuracy those heath providers need for their practice. When fully instated in October 2014, ICD-10 will be comprised of 79,000 enhanced codes that differentiate laterality and describe a condition more accurately in less code.

Not an Easy Transition
As excited as we are about the ability to more accurately describe a procedure or condition in a smaller bit of code, the learning curve ultimately will prove difficult in the transition period. A major pain point of ICD-10 is that there are few direct translations from ICD-9 to ICD-10. We have found a few helpful tables posted by the National Center for Health Statistics, but since there are very few translations between old and new, we will have to take it upon ourselves as medical professionals to stay ahead of the learning curve.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel 
For the time leading up to the final implementation of ICD-10 on October 1, 2014, the medical industry will be burdened with significant education and training, but for all the hard work medical professionals will ultimately be rewarded with improved accuracy across the coding process. If you have not begun your transition to the new set of codes here is a handy implementation tracker to aid your transition.