Really? Must Doctors Now Prepare for ICD-11?

Margaret Skurka, MS, RHIA, CCS


July 31, 2018

In This Article

Another Revision Is on the Way?

It seems like only yesterday that the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision) was the new coding kid on the block. Sometime after 2022, however, ICD-10 will be shelved and swapped out for ICD-11.

Before you shake your fist and shout "Not again!" let's look at why the World Health Organization (WHO)—which created this system of medical coding for documenting diagnoses, diseases, signs and symptoms, and disease patterns—feels this new revision is necessary.

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), ICD-11—following on the heels of ICD-10, which was released in the United States in 2015—contains updates to some key clinical elements and allows the coding process to integrate more smoothly with new electronic records technology. These revisions, the CDC says, should allow for better interoperability and coding consistency across different platforms. In 2017, the WHO field-tested the revisions in 31 countries, with a total of 1673 participants running more than 112,000 codes.

For most physicians, both here and abroad, avoiding ICD-11 will be nearly impossible. According to the WHO, ICD codes are tied to payment for roughly 70% of the world's healthcare expenditures. More than 100 countries already use this health-information standard.

Although ICD-11 is expected to be finalized this year, full implementation is likely to take longer. Here's what the American Medical Association had to say in an email to Medscape:

There is a long way to go before the World Health Organization finalizes the eleventh edition of the ICD code set. With actual implementation still several years away, now is the time for US physicians to work with their national medical specialty societies and the National Center for Health Statistics at the CDC to shape how ICD-11-CM is developed for the US healthcare system.


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