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Start Preparing Now for ICD-11 Changes

October 14, 2021

ICD-11Medical practices and hospitals spent significant time and resources preparing for and adapting to ICD-10, but in 2019 the World Health Organization announced the new release of the International Classification of Diseases, Eleventh Edition (ICD-11). The good news is that your medical practice has some time to prepare for the changes. Countries may start using ICD-11 on January 1, 2022, although there’s been no decision on when and how the United States will begin implementing ICD-11.

While changing to ICD-11 should be far less challenging than the move to ICD-10, it’s still essential to prepare and plan ahead, so your practice is ready to move forward when it’s time to make the transition.

What to Expect from ICD-11

One of the key changes for ICD-11 is its structural redesign. It now features a digital design that can easily be integrated with electronic information systems and health applications. According to the ICD10 Monitor, its structure is built upon a Foundation Component. That takes all the ICD concepts and information and creates tabular lists, structuring it more as a database that makes it far more IT-compatible than the previous ICD-10.

To compare the two, ICD-11 has 80,000 entries pointing to 17,000 codes within 26 chapters, which is compared to the 21 chapters and 14,000 codes found in ICD-10. Five new chapters are included with IC-11, which means that chapter numbers have changed as well. The new chapters include:

  • Chapter 3 – Diseases of the blood or blood-forming organs
  • Chapter 4 – Disorders of the immune system (blood and immune system conditions now make up two separate chapters)
  • Chapter 7 – Sleep-wake disorders
  • Chapter 17 – Conditions related to sexual health
  • Chapter 27 – Traditional Medicine  

For the first time, there’s a chapter for traditional medicine. Traditional medicine gets widely used across the globe but has never been classified within the system before.

ICD-11 includes many new changes designed to help solve problems experienced with ICD-10. For example, ICD-11 offers simplified diabetes coding, improved classification of valve diseases, HIV subdivisions, and melanoma types. It also has changed to extension codes that indicate dimensions, severity temporality of an injury, as well as any external causes.

When is ICD-11 Coming?

Countries have the ability to begin using ICD-11 on January 1, 2022, which isn’t far away. However, every country can determine when they want to adopt ICD-11. There’s currently no deadline to when implementation should be complete, but with the technological advances and improvement in efficiencies offered, it’s likely that America’s hospitals and practices may want to begin implementing the changes fairly soon. All the essential pieces for the transition to ICD-11 in the U.S. haven’t been finalized, but it’s still worth it to start planning.

With such a significant increase in codes – codes that impact all specialties – it’s essential for health information management professionals and coding managers to become familiar with the concepts of ICD-11. Coming up with training plans now can ensure it’s easy and efficient to transition to ICD-11 once there’s an implementation date in place. Some of the best places to check for the latest information on ICD-11 implementation within the U.S. include:

  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
  • American Medical Association
  • Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
  • American Health Information Management Association

Other considerations to begin thinking about include what ICD-11 transitions will present when it comes to software requirements, education, and budget implications.

Key Benefits of ICD-11

While the very idea of transitioning to ICD-11 may seem stressful, looking at some of the key changes to ICD-11 actually shows a variety of helpful benefits. A few of those key benefits include:

  • Ease of Use – ICD-11 uses a more contemporary coding system that easy to integrate with electronic health records. It’s completely electronic and offers a variety of helpful resources.
  • Updated Structure and Content – The new content and structure of ICD-11 reflects better on our current scientific knowledge and includes far more than just diseases.
  • Digital Capabilities – The digital format means that ICD-11 can be continually updated, and is designed to be computable.
  • Improved Coding Quality – More straightforward coding is enabled with ICD-11, and introducing extensions and clustering allows greater detail to be added to codes. By combining codes, there’s more flexibility of application in describing health conditions at any level.
  • New, Improved System – You’ll find 28 chapters in ICD-11, and the additions like sleep-wake disorders, sexual health, immune system diseases, and traditional medicine will prove useful.

As of now, it’s currently unknown whether the United States will create a modified version of ICD-11, as was done with ICD-10. However, no matter when implementation day comes, can help. Our professionals stay on the cutting edge of the latest changes, and we’ll work with you to ensure you’re able to thrive when it’s time to implement ICD-11. To learn more about how we can help your practice with medical billing and coding, contact us today. 


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