Major Differences Between ICD-9 and ICD-10

The ICD-10 code set is not just a simple update to the ICD-9 code set. They are both different in the fundamental structure and concepts, and it is important to understand the differences between them for a smooth transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10.

Differences between ICD-9 and ICD-10

ICD-10 codes are very specific as opposed to ICD-9 codes which lack detail

ICD-10, being more specific, addresses the issues with the ICD-9 diagnosis and procedure. Example, if a patient is to be treated for a burn on the left leg, the ICD-9 code will not distinguish if it is the left or the right leg. If the same patient is to be treated for a burn in the right leg, the same ICD-9 code will be reported. ICD-10 diagnosis codes identify left and right with separate codes.

Character length for ICD-10 codes is more than the character length for ICD-9 codes

In ICD-9, certain chapters are full and remove the ability to add new codes. ICD-10 codes have greater character length, which expands the number of codes available for use. With ICD-10, we can have a large number of chapters in the future. ICD-9 codes are 3-5 characters in length while ICD-10 codes are 3-7 characters in length. Due to this, ICD-10 has about 68,000 available codes along with the flexibility to add new ones as compared to ICD-9 which has only 13,000 codes.

ICD-10 adds support for combination codes which were not supported by ICD-9

The ICD-10 codes allow the use of combination codes which help in reporting 2 diagnoses, or multiple elements of the same diagnosis using a single code. ICD-9 does not support combination codes.

ICD-10 makes use of alphabet codes as opposed to ICD-9, which allowed only numeric codes

ICD-10 uses alphabet codes to be more specific than ICD-9 codes. The additional characters in ICD-10 will allow for more detailed information such as listing the body part, body system, device, approach, and other important qualifiers in a single code.

ICD-10 is integrated better with modern technology as opposed to ICD-9

ICD-10 emphasis on modern technology devices being used for various procedures, while ICD-9 codes are unable to reflect the use of modern day equipment.

Hence, the basic structural difference is that ICD-9 is a 3-5 character numeric code while the ICD-10 is a 3-7 character alphanumeric code. The documentation of ICD-10 is much more specific and detailed as compared to ICD-9. With the ICD-10 deadline being October 1, 2014, we have recently partnered with a number of healthcare ISVs for their ICD-10 transisiton success. Our team at Nalashaa is well-versed with the codes. We have dedicated ICD-10 experts working with Healthcare ISVs with their requirements. Contact us to see how we can help you with the transition.

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