ICD-10, seriously?

Nov. 1, 2011

Claims and Coding

After a Sept. 13 article in the Wall Street Journal poked fun at the sometimes head-scratching detail of ICD-10 (including actual codes describing injuries that took place while crocheting or being struck by a parrot), Wendy Wittington, M.D., MMM and chief medical officer at Anthelio Healthcare Solutions, decided to create her own list of reasons to take the federally mandated coding system update to heart. About 18,000 ICD-9 codes used to describe medical services and facilitate billing to insurance companies will be converted to more than 155,000 in-depth entries in the ICD-10 system. The deadline to complete the change is Oct. 1, 2013.

Five reasons to take ICD-10 seriously today, as outlined by Dr. Wittington:

1. ICD-9 was developed in the 1970s. A lot has changed in medicine since then, and the current system has run out of enough codes to describe the work physicians do every day.
2. ICD has roots dating back to the 1700s and was never intended to have anything to do with the way doctors get reimbursed.
3. The U.S. is the only developed nation still on ICD-9; most of Europe has been on ICD-10 for years.
4. ICD-9 doesn’t allow for meaningful comparative effectiveness research or for the development of protocols that are sorely needed to manage patients in an increasingly complex system.
5. What the public may not realize is that this decision has been put off for so many years already that it has reached an urgency level that leaves little room for more delays.

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