The thought of transitioning to ICD-10 and its 68,000 diagnosis codes might have you shaking in your boots. So, you might also be doing anything in your power to deny the inevitable—possibly to the point of eschewing any of the noted benefits of ICD-10. But before you pooh-pooh 10 and say 9 is just fine, hear me—and CMS—out. Look at all these drawbacks of ICD-9:

  • It is 34 years old. (People still smoked in medical facilities 34 years ago. Not a good sign.)
  • It doesn’t provide the necessary detail for patients’ medical conditions or the procedures and services performed today.
  • It uses antiquated and obsolete terminology. (Let’s leave the old-hat for the moths.)
  • It uses outdated codes that produce incorrect and limited data. (Oh dear, like auditors need any more excuses.)
  • It is inconsistent with current medical practice because it cannot accurately describe 21st century diagnoses and inpatient procedures of care.

So, ICD-9 is nowhere near fine. Now that we’ve acknowledged the severe flaws of our oldie-but-not-goodie system, let’s consider—thanks to a list from CMS—what ICD-10 will bring to the table:

  • Greater specificity of clinical information, which will result in:

    • Improved ability to measure services and conduct public health surveillance
    • Increased insight for refining grouping and reimbursement methodologies
    • Decreased need to include supporting documentation with claims
  • Updated classification of diseases and medical terminology
  • Codes that allow for comparison of mortality and morbidity data
  • Better data for:

    • Measuring patient care
    • Conducting research
    • Designing payment systems
    • Processing claims
    • Making clinical decisions
    • Tracking public health
    • Identifying fraud and abuse

And with that, I’d say ICD-10 is by and large better than ICD-9. Sure, it’ll be quite the transition, but an important and necessary one. Thus, rather than shake in your boots, it’s time to tighten your laces and start running—confidently—with the changes. To help facilitate that, check out this timeline. It starts now and so should you.