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Retire ICD-9 Before it Turns 40

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, May 6, 2014

ICD-9, envisioned in 1975 and oblivious to all that has occurred in the ensuing 39 years of medicine, needs to go. Everyone in healthcare knows it.


Peanuts


This weekend, in a park in Palo Alto, California, TCP/IP will have its 40th birthday party. The communications protocol that undergirds the Internet is just a few years younger than ICD-9, the ninth revision of the International Classification of Diseases.

ICD-9, envisioned in 1975 and oblivious to all that has occurred in the ensuing 39 years of medicine, needs to go. Everyone in healthcare knows it. Last week, CMS once again tried to put a stake in the ground, announcing its intent to publish a rule that implements ICD-10 for billing codes on October 1, 2015.

And yet, at the same time, CMS called off long-planned ICD-10 testing over the summer to let providers, billing companies, and clearinghouses a chance to see if CMS can accept their ICD-10-coded claims even though numerous providers want the testing to go forward as scheduled, and extended to a much wider range of participants.

The whole thing resembles that classic Peanuts comic strip where Lucy invites Charlie Brown to kick the football, only to snatch it away at the last minute, leaving poor Chuck flat on the ground in pain.

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1 comments on "Retire ICD-9 Before it Turns 40"


Michael Questell (5/7/2014 at 3:37 PM)
Where to even start? It IS an unfunded mandate. In fact, practices have been advised to take out a line of credit to cover 3 months expenses in case there are problems with providers. And to be sure, ICD-9 is 40 years old but some payers have not mastered it after even that amount of time. There is no uniformity in how codes are treated especially in conjunction with modifiers. The new codes are unnecessarily more complex. For example, who really cares which ligament is sprained in a sprained ankle or that you hit your head on a wall vs a lamp post? Most providers tell me they're just going to pick a code regardless of its accuracy. This is just another impediment to healthcare delivery. One day physicians are going to say "enough" and you bean counters can write your own scripts and diagnose yourselves via Google.