Still Getting Ready for ICD-10-CM

by Steve Adams, MCS, CPC, CPC-H, CPC-I

The go live date with the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition Procedure Coding and Clinical Modification (ICD-10CM) in offices, hospitals, and medical centers across America is October 1, 2014

Even though almost every other country in the world has been using the latest version of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases-ICD-10 for more than 20 years, the United States has been slow to transition from the previous version, ICD-9. ICD-9CM is more than 30 years old, it’s outdated, and some of the terminology associated with it has become obsolete. It is important to mention that these changes will not have an impact on CPT coding; those codes will remain the same.

ICD-9CM has technically “run out of room” and has nowhere else to grow and no room for appropriate updates. Since it is based on a scientific organizational grid, each code can consist of three digits and in some cases an alpha code (E or V) and can only have 10 code subcategories, almost all of which have been exhausted with new medical discoveries and technological advancements in medical sciences.

ICD-10CM, on the other hand, is alphanumeric, beginning with a letter and with a mix of numbers and letters thereafter. Valid codes may have three, four, five, six, or seven digits allowing space for over 65,000 codes, whereas ICD-9CM has basically reached its limit at around 16, 500 codes.

The new system will allow for greater detailed information and it has the ability to expand and adapt to the ever-advancing field of medicine. The broader alphanumeric system allows room for recognition of advances in technology. It also allows for greater coding accuracy and reduced coding error. Specifically, there will be advancements in five major areas of health care including:

1)      quality measurement,

2)      public health,

1)      research,

2)      organizational monitoring, and

3)      performance and reimbursement.



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