As we’ve stated in previous blog posts, the US will transition to ICD-10 codes on October 1, 2015—to some of you, that might seem like a quickly approaching date. Others might be wondering, “What’s the rush?” Know that it only seems hurried now because of pesky procrastination. To truly understand this, we must delve into the history of ICD-10.

In the beginning…

The World Health Organization (WHO), the public health sector of the United Nations, which focuses on international health and outbreaks, began work on the tenth edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) coding system nearly 30 years ago in 1983. What started in the age of Cabbage Patch Dolls and Return of the Jedi didn’t actually finish until 1992. That’s right, it took nearly a decade to develop ICD-10. And yes, the final, ready-to-use version of ICD-10 has existed for more than a decade.

Ready to adopt?

Australia jumped on the adoption bandwagon pretty quickly. Half of their states implemented ICD-10 in 1998 and the remainder followed in 1999. Canada quickly followed suit in 2000. From there, many other European countries as well as Thailand, Korea, China, and South Africa all adopted ICD-10 either in its original, modified, or translated form. Even Dubai hopped aboard the ICD-10 train in 2012. (see more about country adoption here).

Our invitation must’ve gotten lost in the mail.

In the grand scheme of things, the US is pretty late to the party. To quote HCIM, “The USA is one of the few developed countries that have not transitioned to ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS.” Why? According to Complete Practice Resources, the United States has a complex healthcare system chock full of highly influential special interest groups who control decision-making. “It has made implementation difficult; the deadline has continually been extended.” To elaborate: In August 2008, the Department of Health and Human Services proposed that medical professionals use ICD-10 for reporting diagnoses and procedures on healthcare transactions in the US. “On January 15, 2009, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a final rule establishing ICD-10 as the new national coding standard” with an implementation date of October 1, 2013, said HCIM. And then 2013 became 2014. And then, just when we thought ICD-10 had finally broken through the bureaucratic red tape and the extensions were over, 2014 became 2015.

Better late than never.

So now, here we are at the previous deadline of October 2013, one year away from the super firm and final deadline. As for the transition, according to Complete Practice Resources, “under the ICD-10 mandate, the 155,000 ICD-10-CM (diagnosis codes) and 85,000 ICD-10-PCS procedural coding system will be used in conjunction with the [American Medical Association’s] CPT codes.”

Time to prepare.

There you have it: the history of ICD-10—a change that has been a long time comin’. (Click here for a handy timeline version.) As for the future of ICD-10, well, that’s up to us to decide. Trust, though, that this transition is a good thing. (Here’s why.) No more procrastination allowed; it’s time to prepare. Check out our blog tomorrow—we’ll have a roadmap ready for you.