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What is ICD-10?

What is ICD-10?

On October 1, 2014, medical practices around the country covered by the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) are required to convert their old ICD-9 coding systems to use the ICD-10 format. This requirement will bring serious change to medical practices large and small. In order to cope with the transition effectively, physicians and their staff as well as new professionals in medical coding or medical billing must have a good overview of the new ICD system in order to understand why the change is happening, how it differs from ICD-9, and what steps they can take to easily switch.

What Is ICD-10?

ICD-10 stands for the 10th revision to the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD). This is a comprehensive list of medical classifications by the World Health Organization (WHO). This list provides codes for signs, symptoms, diseases, complaints, abnormal discoveries, societal circumstances and outside causes of diseases and injuries.

importance of icd-10

Why Switch?

The primary reason that the switch to ICD-10 is being mandated by HIPAA is because of the limitations involved with ICD-9. The codes that are used in ICD-9 have been around for over 30 years. World Health Organization States began using  it in 1994, and many countries besides the United States have already made the switch to this system. ICD-9 codes are also much less detailed than ICD-10.

Because it is more recent, the new ICD system accounts for diagnoses and procedures that have been developed in the past few years. This allows for more specific information about medical conditions to be communicated to the necessary parties. ICD-10 also integrates better with modern technology and billing systems. Because of its accuracy, this will make billing concerns much less of a challenge for health care organizations.

How It Differs From ICD-9

Arguably the biggest difference between these codes is the expansion of the code set. ICD-10 adds two new positions, making a total of seven positions instead of the five in ICD-9. Also, every place in the new code can use numbers as well as letters, whereas in ICD-9 only the first position could use alphanumeric characters and the rest of the characters were numeric.

Another important change from 9th revision to the 10th is found in how specific diagnoses with 10 can be compared to 9. The new version allows medical providers to make references to body parts on the left or the right side of the patient, a concept known as laterality. Because of the increase in the number of characters in each code as well as the precision of codes that are used in the system, there are many more codes in ICD-10: there are 68,000 ICD-10-CM codes instead of the 13,000 in ICD-9-CM.

ICD 10 switch

Tips To Transition

Unfortunately, because of the differences in the formats of the codes, there is not a single bridge technique that can be used to convert old to the new system. For existing medical firms that are looking to switch, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services provide an overview of the ICD-10 protocol as well as many other online resources available. The switch will also have an impact on software firms that produce programs for the health care field.

Those looking to begin a new medical billing and coding career should use all available resources to gain an overview of the new coding system in order to familiarize themselves with the new codes used in positions that they wish to take in the medical world. Understanding the differences between the codes is a key step in getting up to date with the modern world of medical coding. The better a job candidate’s understanding of ICD-10, the easier it will be for them to have a successful career in health care.

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