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Beyond billing: ICD-10 codes an opportunity for richer data

The transition to ICD-10 codes will be a challenge; but as one CIO is finding, more specific codes will mean more accurate clinical information, not to mention better billing.

Providers have been using the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems -- otherwise known as ICD -- for more than a decade to receive reimbursements. Coding itself, though, is much further-reaching, says Tom Durel, CIO of Valley Baptist Health System in Harlingen, Texas. Medical information is classified and coded for a range of uses, from research to quality improvement.

Now the health care industry is embarking on a conversion to ICD-10 codes, an upgrade from the ICD-9 system currently used. Picture this: An industry that now is using about 13,000 codes for medical information must learn the more complex and specific ICD-10 system, which contains more than 65,000 codes -- and by law, the industry has about two years to get it done.

The higher degree of definition in the new coding system will lead to richer clinical information, but understanding how ICD-10 codes encompass every aspect of a provider setting -- from clinical workflow to applications and data storage -- is challenging and time-consuming, Durel says. "It's like a jigsaw puzzle." Providers must "get into the guts of your system and understand data."

In this SearchHealthIT.com podcast, listen to Durel as he explains what Valley Baptist is doing for its transition to ICD-10 codes, and how such transitions relate to providers' efforts to implement electronic health records.

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Beyond billing: ICD-10 codes an opportunity for richer data

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Let us know what you think about the podcast; email Jean DerGurahian, Executive Editor.

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