ICD-10 for Everyone

Standardizing the identification of diseases and conditions allows for better comparison of health statistics among countries and better coordination of public health efforts. The initiative itself can seem pointless at first. Why more labels? Isn’t sickness just sickness? The answer is yes. Sickness is just that; however, grouping and labeling them gives the world a concise system to work with in terms of healing. Because so many have accepted their calling of taking on a responsibility of promoting health, a comprehensive set of codes outlining every disease has been maintained since 1893.

In the United States, the current codes known as ICD-10 are primarily used by medical coders to translate words used by physicians. The practitioner’s words are essentially assigned an alphanumeric code to describe a patient’s condition to justify transmitting insurance claims. The new set differs greatly from the 9th version. So far, the 10th revision seems to be intimidating to doctors and medical coders since it contains more than five times as many categories. The general attitude towards the mandated adoption is overall negative because it requires re-education and incurs costs.

Regardless of opinion towards the conversion, healthcare professionals should familiarize themselves with the codes now so that they will use them securely by the compliance deadline date, October 1, 2014. For those that are not medical coders or health specialists, the need to learn is not quite as high. Still, because the new categories reflect modern science, it is not a bad idea to become familiar with the system. The information is medical, but not beyond a non-medical employee’s learning.

Health is for everyone and patients need to know just as much about disease as specialists. Brushing up on basic knowledge of anatomy and the skeletal system is a good task to start with. So many books and online sources have been published making it a convenient mission to do. The American Medical Association and Medical Arts Press are reliable online sources.

If already familiar with the 9th revision and looking for a quick conversion tool, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services website have attempted an equivalence mapping. The problem with this is that the categories have added, subtracted, transferred, deleted, and pretty much done everything algebraically possible to the 9th version. A simple update conversion tool is not a reliable tool. They do not correlate one-to-one in most cases since the new system is far more specific. In many instances, old diagnoses translate to a completely different one. Preparing for ICD-10 can be a fun way to catch up on anatomy and learn about diseases and causes of death.

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