ICD 10 CM is the new and improve diagnosis code that has replaced the previous ICD 9 CM. The ICD 10 took a long time to develop and to implement, and was actually late by a few years, mainly because the changes were so significant. ICD itself has been in use across the globe to code mortality and morbidity since 1994. Since 1999, our country has required the codes to be used to report mortality.

What Are ICD Medical Codes?

With the implementation of the ICD 10, there are now some 68,000 individual codes. While it was being developed, it was estimated that it would take at least six months for health care providers and medical coders to truly get to grips with the system and use it properly. To ensure that a smooth transition was possible, advanced training was developed. However, despite all these preparations, it took much longer for ICD 10 to be properly implemented, and many people continue to struggle with it. That is not because the system is not appropriate, but rather because it is so wide and varied, to literally cover every single medical eventuality.

Differences Between ICD 9 and ICD 10:

There are significant differences between ICD 9 and ICD 10. This is why, when you ask yourself “what are ICD medical codes”, you have to be more specific in terms of which ones you mean. In ICD 9, the codes represented illnesses and conditions, using three to five numeric characters. There were also E codes, which were alphanumeric in nature, and they describe the external cause of a certain injury, as well as adverse effects and poisonings. Lastly, they had the V codes, which represent the factors that describe contact with health services and the overall health status of the individual.

This is very different from ICD 10 CM. Here, the code contains three to seven characters. The first character is an alpha character. Characters two to seven are alphanumeric in nature. There are always a minimum of three characters, and a decimal is then used after these characters. The system has been very cleverly designed, because it also allows for the addition of conditions that have not been identified yet, or that weren’t included in ICD 9 CM. These include WNV and SARS, for instance. Furthermore, ICD 10 is a lot more flexible because it can include not just current disease knowledge and medical terminology, but also future ones. Furthermore, it is as accurate and specific as possible.

The structure of the ICD 10 may appear highly complex, but it is actually very simple, once you know how it works. Each code is broken down into certain chapters, and then further divided into subchapters. Letters refer to specific diseases, which means it is very easy to find important information.

The biggest benefit to knowing what are ICD medical codes, particularly the latest, is that they can be used in Electronic Medical Record settings. This is also because it allows for full integration with clinical reference terminology, SNOMED-CT mapping, and computer assisted coding.