I am asked by my medical billing students what is so great about ICD-10 and why do we NEED to change to it. It’s a valid question for a new student to ask. With all the talk about ICD-10 implementation one should understand why we, as a country, need to update to ICD-10.

ICD-10 benefits are in data sharing, outcomes, and health care.  ICD-9 is over 34 years old! Think about what healthcare was like 34 years ago and it becomes evident that we need to update to current terminology.  ICD-9 just is not specific enough to accurately explain a patient’s diagnoses and procedures using older terminology this leads to incorrect patient data and more need for auditing!

What’s So Great About ICD-10 for Medical Billing Students?

ICD-10 for Medical Billing Students has 68,000 codes versus ICD-9’s 13,ooo codes. So, there is more chance to accurately detail clinical information, which is very god for optimizing grouping and reimbursement processes.  ICD-10 also uses updated terminology and disease classifications. The more specific terminology will allow healthcare personnel to better evaluate and describe patient care which also will lead to better clinical decisions. Also, fraud will be easier to uncover with more specific terminology and documentation.  Another advantage of ICD-10 is that research will be easier to support with the more specific code sets giving a clearer picture of diseases and mortality rates.

Physicians will need to learn to document more in the patient medical record to justify the diagnosis and procedures. Examinations may take a little longer to perform. However, trying to stay with the old ICD-9 isn’t validated. I cannot think of one seriously valid reason to continue with a clearly outdated code set.  It is time-consuming for physicians to implement the new, but it is necessary for ongoing good patient care, outcomes, and effective documentation.


By: Dawn Moreno, PhD, CBCS, CMAA, MTC. Lives in the beautiful Southwest United States and has been an instructor for medical coding/billing for the past 7 years.  Interested in quality medical billing training?  

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