New international medical coding ICD-10 to replace ICD-9, more data required

A new medical coding for the United States was on Thursday announced, and several local hospitals are already switching to accommodate the new statistical requirement for the health industry.

This new coding system is known as the International Classification of Diseases, and it is the 10th revision within a 36-year period; making health experts to call the new coding system the ICD-10. With this case, health officials will require more specificity when dealing with patients and asking questions that led to the ill-health and present conditions.

For instance, doctors might ask an asthma patient if they live close to someone who smokes or if there’s a fireplace in their residence; and they might ask where exactly someone fell before his ankle was sprained and the circumstances that led to the fall.

The number of diagnostic codes used by doctors might increase from about 14,000 people using the former coding system to about 70,000 now – the old coding system having been known as the ICD-9. To this end, the number of procedure codes has also risen from 4,000 to over 70,000.

The ICD-10 has become necessary in its true light to help billing systems meet up with modern medicine, government, and healthcare needs. Medical researchers will also get paid under the new coding system, and professionals working to improve health systems will also benefit from dividends accruing from the introduction of the new coding.

While it will require some effort to fully convert to the new coding system, most medical experts are of the mind that the switch to ICD-10 will boost disease management and provide health providers with the necessary patients’ information needed to help patients deal with their medical needs. Moreover, some doctors also fear the switch might impact on their incomes due to delayed reimbursement and slight mistakes.

And while medical workers might find this switch as initial work, patients do not need to worry about anything. “We don’t expect patients to be inconvenienced,” said Elizabeth Curtis, administrative director of medical-information management at Wexner Medical Center.

“Certainly, this is a big change, but it’s actually long overdue. In the long run, even if there are bumps along the way — and there probably will be — this is best for patient care,” said Dr. Daniel Wendorff, the president and chief medical officer of Mount Carmel Health Partners, a Mount Carmel Health System-physician organization.