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New medical coding system nears rollout

Sep. 19, 2013, 9:33 AM

Starting Oct. 1, 2014, U.S. providers and hospitals will be required to use a greatly expanded medical code set to categorize patient problems and inpatient procedures. The new code set will help sharpen health services analysis, but switching won’t be a simple matter.

On Sept. 30 Rehabilitation Services will become the first clinical area at Vanderbilt to switch from the ICD-9 code set to ICD-10.

Vanderbilt’s electronic ICD lookup tool will soon be expanded to encompass both ICD-9 and ICD-10.

ICD stands for international classification of diseases. Most billing and statistical analysis of health care rests on ICD codes, with some codes assigned directly by providers and others assigned by coding specialists based on information in the medical record. ICD-9 codes are three to five alphanumeric characters in length, but ICD-10 codes are three to seven alphanumeric characters in length, allowing far greater physiologic and anatomic specificity. Most of the developed world has long since switched to ICD-10.

VUMC clinical areas will make the switch one or two at a time, finishing by next July. Next up are Respiratory Therapy, which will make the switch in December, and Hearing and Speech Sciences, which will switch in January.

About 75 computer applications in use at VUMC will undergo modification as part of the switch to ICD-10.

CPT (current procedural terminology) coding activity is unaffected by the switch to ICD-10.

For more information visit Vanderbilt’s ICD-10 transition web site (Vanderbilt login required).

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