The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), has quite a storied history for a code set that has yet to go into effect here in the US. With the multiple delays it has suffered, you might be wondering why on Earth we’re even making the switch. I mean, ICD-9 has done fine thus far, and the delays only prove that, right? Wrong. Not to sound like a politician, but not only is ICD-9 bad for health care, it’s bad for America. And I’ll prove it.

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ICD-9 Drawbacks

For starters, ICD-9 is 35 years old. For some perspective, people still smoked in medical facilities 35 years ago. I mean, the Internet didn’t even exist then. Besides the fact that ICD-9 is no spring chicken, it also lacks specificity. With only 13,000 codes, ICD-9 fails to provide enough details or accuracy—both in terms of medical conditions as well as services and procedures—for modern healthcare delivery. This produces incorrect and limited data, which can lead to issues with reimbursements and audits. Furthermore, the code set’s terminology is antiquated and, in some instances, obsolete.

ICD-10 Benefits

ICD-10 is newer than ICD-9, the codes inherently feature updated disease classification and medical terminology. An added bonus: the set contains codes that allow for comparison of mortality and morbidity data. Additionally, ICD-10 has five times as many codes as ICD-9, which means the set is vastly more specific than its predecessor. And greater specificity leads to:

  • Improved ability to measure services and conduct public health surveillance
  • Increased insight for refining grouping and reimbursement methodologies
  • Decreased need to include supporting documentation with claims

All of that means better data, which improves how we:

  • Measure patient care
  • Conduct research
  • Design payment systems
  • Process claims
  • Make clinical decisions
  • Track public health
  • Identify fraud and abuse

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While I can’t see your face, I’m convinced that you’re a believer. ICD-10 is a good thing, and there’s no stayin’ stuck with ICD-9. Now all you have to do is prepare for the inevitable, and that means making believers out of your staff and peers. Need help convincing them that ICD-10 is something they should embrace rather than dread? Download our comparison graphic in the box above.

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