For those who are preparing to implement the new ICD 10 coding system, one of the first things they'll realize is that the new codes are very different from the old system they've been using. It is not just a matter of learning a new set of numbers. According to some, it involves relearning how medical care is being defined. This type of transition can be very unnerving for some but what can help would be comparing ICD 9 vs ICD 10 codes. When you can see the two systems side by side, it may make it easier to understand why and how the new system was implemented. There are six key differences in the new coding system that need to be understood.


One of the first differences that you'll notice is that the new codes are longer. With the ICD 9 coding system there were approximately 13,000 different codes to know but the ICD 10 is considerably larger with 68,000 codes in the database. This is nearly 19 times larger than the present system.


You'll also notice when comparing ICD 9 vs ICD 10 codes that the new system is much more specific in defining medical services. The new codes allow for the identification of etiology, anatomic site, and even the severity of the condition to be included in the code. In addition, the doctor can classify if it was an initial treatment, subsequent, or sequelae of an encounter. Even the location of an injury is now more specific. Under the new system, what was previously coded as a forearm fracture now can become a torus fracture of the lower end of the right radius, initial encounter for closed fracture. You can't get more specific than that.


The new ICD 10 coding system also allows for lateral specificity as well. Now those who will pay the bill will know exactly what they are paying for. The coding will explain whether the knee injection received is for the right or the left making it clear what treatment has been given and why.

Room To Expand:

Under the new system, room to grow has already been built into the system. So as new technologies and diagnoses come along there is room to expand and incorporate new procedures and treatments into the coding system. This will help to eliminate learning a new system every year as new things are introduced.


Finally, in comparing ICD 9 vs ICD 10 codes, you'll see that certain terminologies have changed. New terms have been incorporated to reflect the newer and more progressive practices in medicine and the potential timeline for recovery.

Because the new system now contains combination codes, it is now possible to code multiple diagnoses in one single code. This will save billing coders and other medical professionals a great deal of time. Under the old system a patient with diabetes mellitus and neuropathy had to receive two separate codes but now they can be incorporated into one.

Learning the new system may be a challenge but once you do, chances are that you'll find that the new changes will be quite beneficial overall in the scheme of things.