October 1, 2015 is being touted as the “Y2K moment” for the healthcare industry. As nearly everyone in the healthcare industry knows, starting in October, U.S. health providers must begin using the codes from the latest International Classification of Diseases, ICD-10. Anyone who doesn’t know about ICD-10 will be an unwitting participant in the next stage of data-driven medicine. Hospitals, physician offices, medical records and billing statements are all places where you will find ICD codes. The current codes, ICD-9, were created in 1975 and are in dire need of an upgrade. ICD-9 features numeric codes for every diagnosis, symptom description, and cause of death in humans. What ICD-10 will do is add letters to the mix, creating an alphanumeric code that will provide greater detail about severity, location and procedures. Under the current system, suturing a patient’s aorta, for instance, is coded the same as suturing a minor artery. This causes confusion for billing and insurance systems as well as systems that mine patient data in order to improve the quality of care.
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