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Just when you thought that you have overcame the jitters of ICD-9 to ICD-10 transition and successful implemented the coding system, a new threat has emerged in the form of ICD-11. Yes, after being in the works for over a decade, World Health Organization’s new code set is finally set to be presented in 2018 and will be tentatively deployed by 2023 or later.

The upcoming revision has been built on ICD-10 and has integrated medical data that was has been discovered since the launch of ICD-10 in 1992. The new coding system will carry a more interactive web platform, a search engine and regular updates that will help physicians to rely on the system more easily. It would also contain support for various languages, complete with electronic health record (EHR).

The 11th revision of ICD was finalized by WHO and its member states globally to reach a benchmark that will have widespread application across diverse clinical settings. For now, it is too soon to say how ICD-11 will be an upgrade from ICD-10, but the revised version will be scalable in the future so as to reduce the likelihood of building another code system, aka ICD-12.

The Adoption Phase

Before ICD-11 is adopted widely by the healthcare industry, it must be tailored to meet the needs of the US market. It would also require a formal update from the US stakeholders and Congress to become a part of HIPAA regulations before being officially embraced. If history is any indication, ICD-10 took 8 years for modification and almost two decades for implementation. That being said, experts believe that implementation of 11 will be much smoother and quicker as 10 has already undergone computerization. However, it is still estimated that it may take up to 10 years or more before ICD-11 is fully incorporated.

What Does ICD-11 Look Like?

ICD-11-CM is meant to be seamlessly integrated with the clinical information systems. By doing so, the electronic health applications will be able to use its features easily. ICD-11 is likely to have some features from ICD-10, but will have more resemblances with SNOMED-CT.

As far as coding is concerned, ICD-11 will have 26 chapters in all with a built-in capacity for “code strings” via Post-Coordination. There will be 4 brand new chapters added to this update that includes sexual health, sleep-wake disorders, extension codes and even traditional medicine.

What Does It Mean for Coders?

The medical coding environment has witnessed a paradigm shift since 80s when the codes were mandatory for reimbursement process in outpatient procedures. Over a period of time, coding gained more traction to gauge Severity of Illness (SOI) and Risk of Mortality (ROM). Off lately, coders are seen refining processes involving Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) and Computerized Assisted Coding applications (CAC). To make the coders ease into the challenge of ICD-11, WHO has invited global experts to contribute to the upcoming revision.

Implementation of ICD-11 in the US

For the US, the adoption of ICD-11 will be colossal task that will require users with expertise in SNOMED-CT, ICT-10, and system designers. WHO is planning to unveil ICD-11 in 2018, but it is unclear when its full-blown adoption will happen. Since the US follows a stringent regulatory process, it is safe to assume that ICD-10 will continue to be in use, long after ICD-11 is launched.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), an organization that implements ICD systems in the US, says that ICD-10 will remain the foundational block for ICD-11, even though latter is much more complex coding system. By the time ICD-11 is officially launched, the industry would have gained experience with the system and the transition will become much smoother.


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