Frequently Asked Questions
What is ICD-10?
The World Health Organization (WHO) maintains the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) which is the standard diagnostic tool for epidemiology, health management, and clinical purposes. ICD is used to classify morbidity and mortality for tracking vital statistics and health insurance reimbursement across the world. ICD nomenclature provides standardization of disease classification that is used worldwide. The ICD system has been in evolution for over 150 years. The ICD codes are revised and updated by WHO once every ten years to meet the advances in medical science and assure comparability of health statistics internationally. ICD-10 is the most recent standardized set of codes, and was endorsed by the Forty-third World Health Assembly in May 1990 and came into use by WHO Member States since 1994. Currently, ICD10 is considered the world standard for health and disease classification. More information on the history of ICD 10 and up-to-date implementation information is available on the WHO website: http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/
Why is ICD-10 Transition Required in the US?
ICD-10 is a needed change to the over 30 years old ICD-9 coding vocabulary. ICD-9 has outdated terms and limited codes to capture current practices in medical care. The ICD-9 structure limits the number of new codes that can be created.
Who is Required to Transition to ICD-10?
All HIPPA “covered entities” are required to use ICD-10 by October 1, 2015.
How is ICD-10 Different than ICD-9?
ICD-10 has over 68,000 codes, whereas ICD-9 has just over 14,000. ICD-10 has increased length of characters and a more flexible structure to allow creation of new diagnosis codes. ICD-10 has more accurate data for evaluating health care quality measures.
What is the basic structure of the new ICD-10 codes?
The basic structure of the new code is the following:
Characters 1-3 – disease category
Character 4 – etiology of disease
Character 5 – body part affected
Character 6 – severity of illness
Character 7 – placeholder for extension of the code to increase specificity
How Do We Begin to Transition Our Practice?
CMS recommends that medical practices take steps to prepare for implementation of the new code set years in advance. Not only must new software be installed and tested, but medical practices need to provide training for physicians, staff, and administrators. Practices will need to create crosswalks to convert ICD-9 to ICD-10 conversions around each encounter. Practices should check with their electronic medical record vendor to assure their encounter documentation will include the up to date standards as required by CMS.
CMS ICD-10 Updates and Resources
The CMS website offers resources for providers, payers, and vendors to help prepare for the transition to ICD-10. Resources provide tips and advice on how to plan and execute your transition to ICD-10, including timelines, checklists, and fact sheets:
CMS “Road to 10,” an online resource built with the help of providers in small practices. This tool is intended to help small medical practices jumpstart their ICD-10 transition. “Road to 10” includes specialty references and gives providers the capability to build ICD-10 action plans tailored for their practice needs.
These resources will introduce you to ICD-10, explain why it's necessary, and give you the information you'll need to get started on your transition.
Checklists, Timelines, and Implementation Guides
Checklists and timelines provide an at-a-glance view of what you need to do to get ICD-10 ready. The ICD-10 implementation guides provide detailed information about the ICD-10 transition. Please note that the dates and milestones in these materials are recommendations only; you can adapt them to your needs for meeting the October 1, 2015, deadline.
- Checklists with ICD-10 transition tasks and estimated timeframes
- Timelines with suggested dates for important ICD-10 transition activities
- Implementation Guides
Get step-by-step information to help you plan for the transition.
Communicating About ICD-10
Communication between health care providers, software vendors, clearinghouses, and billing services is an important part of the transition process. Learn how to get the conversation started.
Medscape Education: CME Credits Available
Continuing medical education (CME) credits are available to physicians who complete the learning modules for small-medium practices or large practices, but anyone can take them and receive a certificate of completion.
Keep Up to Date on ICD-10
Visit the CMS ICD-10 website for the latest news and resources to help you prepare for the October 1, 2015 deadline.