Each year as a part of normal coding process, diagnostic codes are updated to reflect revised, new, and deleted codes through the CMS ICD-9-CM Coordination and Maintenance Committee. Diagnostic code changes and updates are based on information from vendors, physicians, or other health professionals that demonstrate a current code does not adequately describe a disease, sign, or symptom—or simply that the code is no longer appropriate for use.
With an entirely new code set on the horizon, the natural questions are, When will ICD-9 codes fade out? and, When should the Maintenance Committee stop updating and revising the current ICD-10 codes?
Late last year, the committee announced that they will suspend regular updates to the ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes prior to the implementation of ICD-10 on October 1, 2013. This code freeze will decrease the burden for the transition to ICD-10 for all providers, vendors, and payors.
The code freeze calendar is:
- October 1, 2011: Last annual updates to ICD-9 and ICD-10 codes will be made
- October 1, 2012: Only limited code updates to ICD-9 and ICD-10 to capture new technologies and diseases will be allowed
- October 1, 2013: Limited code updates to ICD-10 code sets allowed, in order to capture new technologies and diseases
- October 1, 2013: ICD-9 codes will cease to exist for reporting
- October 1, 2014: Regular updates to ICD-10 will restart
The code freeze will be partial to allow room for the creation of codes needed to capture new technologies and diseases that may be necessary for public safety and disease management. The Maintenance Committee will continue to meet through 2011 to consider any last-minute update for October 1, 2011.
The ACR is very active in attending the ICD-9 Coordination and Maintenance meetings to keep abreast of all changes and revisions for rheumatology specific codes.
Freezing the current code sets prior to the implementation of ICD-10 is very important and will allow organizations to focus on transitioning to the next generation of coding.
The ICD-10 code set will require training for all physicians and their staff. The ACR will provide ICD-10 training at the 2011 and 2012 ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meetings along with webinars for coding staff and practice managers in the early part of 2012. Visit www.rheumatology.org/practice regularly for information and updates to ICD-10 or contact Antanya Chung, CPC, CPC-I, CRHC, CCP, at [email protected] or (404) 633-3777, ext. 818.