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This is the first of a series of educational articles to introduce two (2) new coding and classification systems that the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) anticipates their implementation on October 1, 2013.  These two systems will have a major impact on how we, as diagnostic and procedural coders, will assign appropriate codes to inpatient and outpatient records.  These systems will also have long term implications for medical decision making and medical documentation practices.

These systems will be similar to those currently in use by other countries, such as Canada, Sweden, Korea, Thailand, Australia, France and Germany under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO); yet our systems are unique to the United States because they will encompass both major morbidity and mortality diagnoses code sets and a specific inpatient procedure code set unique for our medical and surgical care delivery systems.  Ultimately data obtained from these systems will be used nationally and internationally to report, compile, use, and compare healthcare information.

International Classification of Diseases-10th revision-Clinical Modification (ICD-10-CM) and International Classification/Procedure Coding System (ICD-10-PCS), have been in the works since 1985, yet their final code sets have yet to be published in electronic or printed media.   Delays in implementing both systems have been experienced due to many issues such as electronic transactions (EDI) and HIPAA covered entities to name a few.  Scheduled for implementation in January 2009, the systems have been pushed back by four years and are now on target for October 1, 2013.

Grouping of the new diagnostic classification system has changed drastically. Unlike ICD-9-CM where body systems designed chapter disease groupings, the new ICD-10-CM will now categorize their code sets according to the following: 1)communicable diseases; 2)general diseases affecting the entire body; 3)local diseases arranged by body site; 4)developmental diseases; 5)injuries; and 6)external causes of illness.   Therefore, as we start this journey together we must recognize that another paradigm shift in our technical coding knowledge will evolve.  Let us embrace these new systems and learn how our impact will assist in improving disease management and health care delivery for future generations.

In the next part of the series, we will be discussing the formatting of both the tabular and alphabetical index of the diagnostic and procedural classification systems.

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