If you get a kick out of watching diagnosis codes fight head-to-head in the boxing ring—hypothetically at least—then you’ve come to the right blog post. We’re six months out from ICD-10 implementation, and it looks like ICD-9 doesn’t stand a chance of winning (not even by way of another SGR fix). As you size up the competitors, there’s no doubt that the ICD-10 diagnosis code set is bigger and badder than its predecessor. It weighs in with nearly 70,000 codes—five times more than ICD-9’s set includes. And if you’re placing your bets based on that sheer size difference alone, then this might not seem like much of a fair fight. But keep in mind, knocking out your opponent requires more than basic brawn; you need smarts, too. Without further ado, here’s why, in the match-up against ICD-10, ICD-9 is ready to throw in the towel:

ICD-9 is a Bleeder

Okay, so ICD-9 isn’t vulnerable to actual wounds, but there are several reasons the old code set needs some cleaning up:

  1. ICD-9 is significantly older than ICD-10, but that doesn’t mean it’s wiser. In fact, at more than 35 years old, it’s simply outdated when it comes to modern healthcare standards.
  2. With only 13,000 codes, the set lacks specificity as well as the flexibility necessary for adapting to future healthcare developments.
  3. Because the current code set is so limited, much of the diagnosis data is inaccurate. And another jab? That incorrect data further fuels distorted reimbursements.

ICD-10 Goes the Distance

ICD-10 doesn’t rely on haymaker tactics, throwing wild punches to knock out its opponent. The new code set is extensive by design and has five times as many codes as ICD-9 (with mortality and morbidity data to boot). It’s complex, flexible, and designed to accommodate evolving healthcare documentation standards. The specificity of of the new code set allows for:

  • accurate data measurements of everything from quality of patient care to outcomes.
  • clearer clinical research.
  • more effective detection, verification, and response to public health threats.
  • fewer coding errors.
  • easier identification and prevention of healthcare fraud and abuse.
  • reduced claim rejections.
  • accurate provider performance-tracking.

And the Winner is?

ICD-10 KO’s ICD-9. I don’t know which contender you put your hypothetical money on at the beginning of this post, but I hope you’ve come out a little richer—at least in knowledge—in the end. Are you still a diehard fan of ICD-9? Check out this post and download the infographic to see why you should readjust your betting strategy. Do you have questions? Comment in the section below.