“Urgent care” was in its infancy and electronic medical records were practically the stuff of science fiction when the ICD-9 codes were released in 1979. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) takes one giant leap toward catching up with the launch of ICD-10 codes on October 1. As of that date, ICD-9 codes will no longer be accepted.

CMS has said the new coding set is expected to “advance public health research and emergency response through detection of disease outbreaks and adverse drug events,” in addition to supporting payment models that will ultimately drive quality of care. Andy Slavitt, acting administrator of CMS, says ICD-10 will also facilitate early warning of epidemics and pandemics for disease like Ebola and flu.

The agency crafted a host of documents to prepare the medical and insurance industries for the switch. Two of the most relevant delineate the differences between the two sets (What is different with ICD-10?, available at http://www.roadto10.org/whats-different/) and to answer questions most frequently asked by clinicians, insurers, and coding professionals (Clarifying Questions and Answers Related to the July 6, 2015 CMS/AMA Joint Announcement and Guidance Regarding ICD-10 Flexibilities, which has been updated as recently as Sept. 22 as of this writing, available at https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Coding/ICD10/Clarifying-Questions-and-Answers-Related-to-the-July-6-2015-CMS-AMA-Joint-Announcement.pdf).

October 1: Out with ICD-9, in with ICD-10
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