According to Dr. Bob Doherty as blog KevinMD states, primary care physicians spend 3.5 hours per week on paperwork, with surgeons spending 2.1. Of course, this excludes the support of the staff who complete around 7 hours of paperwork. As enhancements in medicine continue to emerge and doctors work with patients, documentation continues to inundate their “To-Do” lists with a new coding system executed: ICD-10.

Launched on October 1st 2015, ICD-10 codes officially became a basis for medical documentation. ICD is an abbreviation for International Classification of Diseases. There are different versions with the tenth edition as the newest and the 11th on the horizon. As the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted ICD-10 codes, ICD-10 coding was already put into effect in different countries in 1994 such as Romania and the Czech Republic. Transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 in the U.S. was continuously delayed and negotiated until a consensus was finally reached to place ICD-10 as our new, updated coding system for diagnoses.

So what exactly are ICD codes?

Created in 1893 by Dr. Jacques Bertillon, ICD codes are alphanumeric classifications designed to record diagnoses, symptoms, diseases and illnesses, and causes of decease. The United States adopted these codes in 1898 and implemented ICD-1 as the first variant of codes. ICD codes continue to be updated overtime, as more disorders are added and specificity is refined (i.e.: Mental disorder codes were included to ICD-6 in 1949). While major and minor updates occur, minor updates do not change the overall code classifications. The WHO produces ICD codes, which revisions are in turn managed by the NCHS (National Center for Health Statistics) along with WHO.

ICD-10-CM & ICD-10-PCS

There are differing sets of ICD-10 codes: ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS. ICD-10-CM (Clinical Modification) is most commonly referred to. This set assigns diagnoses to patients in all settings. ICD-10-PCS (Procedure Coding System) is used for inpatient procedures in hospitals only.

ICD-9-CM vs. ICD-10-CM

Several differences lay between the two coding systems. ICD-9-CM codes in total came to approximately 14,300 and around 69,100 ICD-10-CM codes exist. ICD-9-PCS totaled to roughly 3,800 with ICD-10-PCS having about 71,950. This notable increase is attributed to medical advancements and enhanced specificity. Another contrast is the composition of the code itself. ICD-9-CM codes contain 3-5 characters while ICD-10-CM codes carry 3-7. The first character of an ICD-9-CM code can be a number or a letter and the leading character is a letter (excluding “U”) in ICD-10-CM codes. The following symbols in an ICD-9-CM code are numbers (Ex: 389.14 codes for central hearing loss). For ICD-10-CM codes, the second and third characters are numbers after the leading letter and the remaining four spaces can hold letters or digits (ex: P29.2 codes for neonatal hypertension). Similar differences exist between ICD-9-PCS and ICD-10-PCS codes as well.

Essentially, ICD-10 is a more detailed system that medical providers will have to rely on. As a result, the extension of categories provided will give them more options of diagnoses that ICD-9 lacked.