Whenever it is updated by the American Medical Association, a new edition of the International Classification of Diseases, Clinical Modification (ICD CM) affects almost every aspect of the medical community. The ICD (now in its tenth major edition) contains the codes used by medical practitioners all over the world to document medical conditions and diseases. The ICD is also used to report all clinical diagnoses. Physicians are obligated to upgrade to the most recent edition due to the adoption of ICD-10 CM being mandated by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
The ICD-10 CM improves former ICD editions in several ways. Specifically, ICD-10 CM significantly expands the injury code list, as well as adding information relevant for ambulatory care procedures (outpatient care). Another major revision is the combination of certain symptom and diagnosis codes in order to trim the total number of codes necessary to describe a condition. Structurally, ICD-10 CM added two more characters, allowing for a far greater number of new codes in the future. The codes also use alphanumeric characters in all positions, rather than simply in the first position, which was the case with previous editions. Codes applying to obstetrics (female reproductive care) have also been adjusted for consistency. The ICD-10 CM (as with previous editions) is available for online viewing prior to its official adoption date of October 1st, 2014. The American Medical Association allows for a near-continuous review system that allows for new recommendations, suggestions, and corrections to be submitted for implementation in the ICD before its official clinical adoption.
While some physicians may resist the change, ICD-9 codes have grown quite outdated over their 30 years of use, with many new conditions and disorders difficult to classify. The new codes in ICD-10 CM will give physicians more tools (tens of thousands more codes compared to ICD-9) to diagnose patients and communicate important medical history information effectively. HIPAA also mandates that all health insurance companies upgrade to ICD-10 in order to keep communications between healthcare providers and insurance companies as efficient as possible.
The new codes themselves are fully viewable on the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) website. They are viewable free of charge and members of the public (as well as patient advocates and other healthcare professionals) are encouraged to view them to suggest changes. Once the official adoption date arrives, the ICD system will become more cumbersome to update and have substantial financial consequences for non-compliance. Medical professionals are advised to make the update as soon as possible to avoid complications while coding for payment for insurance agencies.