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The 10th release of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) is the latest edition to the system of codes that classifies every disease or health problem around the world. The previous edition was released about four decades ago and hence this release was seen as a sweeping change in the medical coding world.

ICD-10 provides a unique platform for practicing physicians and other healthcare professionals and has become the new standard for clinical data, claims processing, clinical documentation, and public health reporting. The benefits of ICD-10 transition begin with enhanced clinical documentation which enables physicians to analyze patient details, thereby lead to better care coordination and health outcomes.

Major Differences Between ICD-9 and ICD-10


ICD-9 has approximately 13000 diagnosis codes which are in numeric form only


ICD-10 has about 68000 alphanumeric diagnosis codes with 19 times as many procedure codes and 5 times as many diagnosis codes as ICD-9

Specific identification of diseases is not possible in ICD-9
ICD-10 codes allow you to identify etiology, anatomic site, severity as well as the first encounter with a disease
ICD-9 does not allow specifying laterality or the region/part of the body affected
Laterality is the new coding convention to increase specificity. Designated codes for conditions will require documentation for the side/region of the body
ICD-9 was released almost 40 years back and has no provision to add new technologies or diagnoses
ICD-10 has the provision to add new procedures as they are developed and new illnesses as they emerge
ICD-9 used the old terminology for various diseases
The ICD-10 terminology has been updated to reflect the current practices
Combination Codes
ICD-9 did not have the provision of combination codes
ICD-10 has combination codes which makes it possible to code multiple diagnoses in one code

Top 8 Advantages of ICD-10 Implementation

Even though most healthcare providers have successfully transitioned towards ICD-10, there are still a few others who have either not implemented it properly, or are in the process of doing so. In case you are still not sure whether to make the transition or not, go through the following benefits of ICD-10 implementation to arrive at a conclusion -

Fair Pay

1. Fair Pay: The new ICD-10 coding system is more granular in nature. This allows physicians to accurately report the complexity of the care provided and differentiate between chronic patients and those who come for routine check-ups. Under the ICD-9 system this distinction would have been lost. As a result, the customers can be charged as per the treatment provided, thereby leading to better transparency in payment procedures.

Greater Efficiency

2. Greater Efficiency: By implementing ICD-10, a huge amount of data will be generated and can be mined for the betterment of public health. It allows governments and healthcare officials to track and respond to global health threats faster while comparing practices with the international community. Areas of injury research and trauma services evaluation have also witnessed a marked improvement in classifying the nature of injuries and correlating them with the proper cause, treatment, and outcome.

Lesser Fraud

3. Lesser Fraud: Adoption of ICD-10 will result in fewer fraudulent and exaggerated claims, which increases the cost of medical care and health insurance premiums. The conversion to ICD-10 will eventually result in better patient care and more accurate reimbursement for providers as well.

Improved Healthcare Quality

4. Improved Healthcare Quality: With ICD-9, the main focus was on improving reimbursements. But the ICD-10 coding setup supports a performance-based payment system rather than aiming at returns. This will change the way healthcare functions currently and will improve the overall quality of care being provided.

Setting Health Policy

5. Setting Health Policy: Since most of the world is using the ICD-10 code set, health officials can use the data to compare public health trends with global pandemics. This will help in setting-up better health policies across the world.

Performance Monitoring

6. Performance Monitoring: The upgrade to ICD-10 will improve a provider's ability to monitor services and resource utilization, analyze healthcare costs, monitor outcomes, and measure performance. Greater detail on procedure types will allow providers to evaluate their own performance as compared to their peers, and take the necessary steps towards improvement.

Improved Quality in Clinical Documentation

7. Improved Quality in Clinical Documentation: The ICD-10 coding system is very much dependent on clinical documentation. Since thousands of diagnosis codes are added to ICD-10, the precision of the codes depend on clinical documents. So, with the implementation of ICD-10, quality of clinical documentation will improve.

Improving Relationships

8. Improving Relationships: An upgrade to ICD-10 helps healthcare providers improve their relations with providers and vendors as well. Providers can partner with payers for coding improvements. Both payers and providers can collaborate and help to improve the reimbursement processes, thereby improving their revenue stream and satisfaction.

Dos and Don'ts of ICD-10 Implementation

While ICD-10 is necessary to be implemented, healthcare providers should also ensure that it is executed properly, failing to which more problems might arise for the practitioners. Here are a few Do's and Don'ts of ICD-10 implementation -

  • Do's

    • Conduct Training for the Coding Team: ICD-10 requires comprehensive training sessions for the medical coders. The training sessions must have case-based exercises which induce them to think logically and act independently when they start coding

    • Choose the Right Technology: Many healthcare IT companies have launched several tools to aid the ICD-10 implementation process. It is important that one chooses the correct tool which suits their requirement

    • Be Aware of the Latest ICD-10 Updates: Updates to ICD-10 are being made frequently and it is important that you stay updated with the latest changes happening in the industry to keep up with the ICD implementation

    • Update Your Clients: Your clients must be regularly updated about the ICD-10 initiatives taken by you. Share your various plans, ideas, or even shortcomings which will show them your commitment towards ICD-10

  • Don'ts

    • Don't do it in a Hurry: Plan a proper ICD-10 implementation plan and work accordingly. The more it is delayed the riskier it is to work at the last minute. Let things happen as planned so that you get enough time to fix any problems arising during the implementation and integration process

    • Don't Leave Everything to the Coders: The ICD coding system demands a lot of groundwork to be done before the actual implementation. The ICD transition must be a combined effort of the transition management team, IT team, and the medical billing team

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Leverage Our Knowledge of ICD-10 to Your Benefit

Flatworld Solutions has been providing medical billing and coding services for over 20 years now. Our highly qualified team of medical billing specialists is adequately trained and well versed with the benefits of integrating ICD-10 codes. We provide high-quality services to clients around the world at very competitive prices.

If you have any such requirement or would like to know about how Flatworld's ICD-10 knowledge can positively impact your practice, feel free to contact us or talk to one of our representatives and we will get back to you within 24 hours.

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