ICD 9 codes are over thirty years old. Most medical billing veterans would agree that the ICD 10 transition was long due! The system is still foolproof, but faces extinction because of the developments in medical field over the years.
As you probably know, ICD 9 codes are ancient and cannot be expanded any further. The set of codes, which consists of 3 to 5 characters have already ended the number of diagnosis criteria. The first character is a letter followed by a string of number or characters. The only additional criteria were a decimal place after the third character. This coding format can be used for a maximum of 17,000 codes only.
On the other hand, ICD 10 codes are 3 to 7 character sequences, with the first one being a letter and following sequences being either numbers or characters. The rule about the decimal place remains the same with one after the third character. These codes have an intricate format which relies on chapters and sub-chapters that are grouped by the letter used. Because of the increase in length, the upper cap on diagnosis codes has now been extended to 155,000 codes. Contrary to popular perception, the increased length of the code only simplifies the process of finding out the diagnosis code. Although the length is the sole change at first glance, there have been considerable improvements in the way the codes are structured. This system, which is much more specific, makes it easier to use than ICD 9. Hence is evident the relevance of ICD 10 transition.
ICD 10 Transition compliance date, by which time the entire system needs to be revamped to adjust to the new system, has been fixed on October 1, 2013 by the HIPAA legislation. This means the government agency that would now require implementation of the new scheme is HHS, the Health and Human Services. This means, the ICD 10 transition would include making changes to the entire software application in order to accommodate the greater number of diagnosis codes. From the front-end that medical billing operators use to the system that runs in the background, everything will have to be revamped in order to accommodate the ICD 10 coding format.
Although ICD 9 stayed for a long time before any changes were made to it, ICD 10 cannot be included in the same manner. This code will be updated annually and has already been introduced in several other companies.