The date is official and nearing quickly, October 2013 is the established date that the ICD-10 code system will be implemented, according to reports released earlier this year by the Medicare and Medicaid agencies. Rumors surfaced over the previous couple of years but the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid have confirmed the date of implementation.

ICD-10 is the tenth publication for the internationally used Classification of Diseases. This is the most common manual used by medical professionals for coding diagnoses and has two different parts. One of the parts is a containment of all medical diagnoses codes and the other consists of the procedure codes for inpatients. The former is referred to as the ICD-10-CM and the latter is ICD-10-PCS. For physicians who only see outpatients, only the ICD-10-CM is required to be used.

There are some significant differences in the ICD-10 than was found in the ICD-9 coding manual. Some of these differences include:

• 3-7 characters in the new ICD-10 codes, rather than 3-5 characters that were found in the ICD-9 codes.
• The new codes will use a letter as the first character, as opposed to the ICD-9 codes that used a letter or a number in the first place setting.
• Not used in the ICD-9 codes is the “x” placeholder that will be present in the ICD-10 codes.

The ICD-10 codes are more complex and detailed, including over 69,000 diagnosis codes, as opposed to the 14,000 plus diagnosis codes used with the ICD-9 manual. The ICD-10 manual is much more complex compared to the ICD-9. Because of the increased number of diagnosis codes, some are beginning to transition between the two. There have been a large number of complaints because of all the changes in coding and because of this the agency has considered a restricted halt on any coding changes until the full implementation has taken place.

Since the freezing limitation may take place, the agency called for the last regular and annual update to be made on October 1, 2011. Extremely limited changes would be made to both the sets of codes on only a few diseases in October of 2012, with a hold on any changes following this date. Regular updates will resume in the year 2014.

In January 2012, another significant implementation took place and required health care providers to prepare and plan ahead. This was the implementation of the 5010 protocol required for submitting electronic records. The old protocol that is now considered to be outdated was the 4010. The new change contains nearly 500 modifications not available in the older version.

Conversion of this protocol is required for implementing the new coding system when dealing with claims submission electronically. It is actually the older version that will not accept the new coding claims and codes. Primarily this is caused by the added characters and spaces found in the new codes. These changes have promised to make a simpler and more streamlined approach to coding and the submission of electronic claims.