What You Need To Know About ICD-11

September 22, 2021
by Admin

Anything and everything you’ve ever wanted to know about global human illnesses is explained and categorized in the new and improved International Classification of Diseases AKA ICD-X. The 11th edition, which was presented by the World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2019, will go into effect January 1, 2022.

So why does this matter? It’s the international standard for human diseases.  Oh, and I’m sure we all remember the shift from ICD-9 to ICD-10 and how large of a pain in the derriere.

WHY ARE WE NOT FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW THEN!? Currently, the U.S. has not set a timeline to adapt the latest ICD. So don’t fret, let us explain.

What Is ICD-11 & Why Was This Monstrosity Created Again?

The ICD was created to give medical professionals worldwide a common denominator when discussing, understanding, and researching physical and mental illnesses in humans. Whether someone is rushed to the hospital a few minutes from their home or while on vacation in Sydney, Australia, medical professionals use ICD as a foundation to identify, treat, and research what’s happening.

The ICD-11 developed a thorough and updated classification of 55,000 diseases, disorders, injuries, and causes of death. This global coding system provides consistency for insurance coding and billing, as well as a mortality and morbidity classification system.

The last edition of ICD was published nearly 25 years ago.  That’s right folks.  It took nearly 20 years for the change to trickle down to us in the form of actually adopting the changes. After a decade in development, the new ICD-11 is set to replace it. The work involved more than 300 specialists from 55 countries, plus input and revisions from health professionals worldwide since its presentation in 2019. Once it goes into effect, it will be used by 194 countries that make up member states of the WHO, and it is published in 43 different languages.

The U.S. and the ICD Classification System (ICDCS)

Here’s the thing: Past versions of the ICD were quickly adopted by countries worldwide, but with each revision, the U.S. had a more and more complicated relationship with the ICDCS. It was very “The Shawshank Redemption” … poorly received on initial release, but audiences warmed up to it eventually.

For ICD-9, which many countries implemented in the 1980s, the U.S. said updates did not meet the needs of American providers and payers. So, mostly, we accepted it but made some adjustments, ultimately using what we called ICD-9-CM (or clinical modifications).

It took the U.S. about 20 years to adopt ICD-10 after delays and much opposition. The American Medical Association essentially said the hefty cost to implement the changes would divert funding from other significant projects and provide little improvement to physicians and patients. The U.S. has used ICD-10 to code and classify mortality data from death certificates since 1999. Eventually, the U.S. transitioned to ICD-10-CM in 2015, with modifications for morbidity purposes as we’re all painfully aware of.  And thankfully we now have a code for arm caught in airplane propeller finally, which I know we have all been waiting for.

Several U.S. medical representatives participated in the development and revisions of ICD-11. Although counties CAN start using ICD-11 as early as January 1, 2021, there is not a deadline for adoption.

What’s new in ICD-11

The latest edition is fully digital and runs on a user-friendly, centralized platform. It covers new discoveries and medical updates. It also uses a dimensional approach, which will do a better job of addressing change over time and address artificial comorbidity.

To help with transition and training, the ICD-11 package offers coding tools, manuals, training materials, transition guides, web services, and more.

Now what?

Countries started preparing for the transition to ICD-11 after its release in 2019. Many, though, will take time for thorough review and the need for any adjustments.  Like years.

Of course, the U.S. transition to the last edition was pretty slow and painful, and there is no current plan to move to ICD-11. 

So again, don’t fret!  And if you see any scary articles online referring to the new ICD-11 updates…be glad you have a knowledgeable friendly neighborhood billing agency in your corner who already gave you the 411.

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