ICD-10’s finer detail, and the fact that the cleaner logic of the codes may lead to fewer coding errors in the long term, cannot help but improve research.
If you look at the overall cost of medical care, a lot of the arguments are not that we’re spending too much, but that we’re spending it in a blind fashion. We’re spending money inappropriately. The ability to target our spending money and to try to get the money that we do spend to the places that it’s needed requires a higher level of that spending analysis than we can currently do with ICD-9.
It is anticipated that ICD-10 will open new opportunities in injury research and trauma services evaluation. ICD-10 provides much-needed improvements in accurately classifying the nature of injuries and correlating them with cause, treatment, and outcome.
These improvements have important implications for the ability to rate the severity of injuries, for which ICD-9 is inadequate. ICD-10 brings the US closer to a universal classification of injuries, which could be used to more adequately describe the nature of the injury and its severity, both in terms of mortality risk and probability of residual impairment.
External cause of injury codes are also much more detailed in ICD-10 than in ICD-9. This coding provides a framework for systematically collecting the population-based information needed to fully describe and document how and where injuries occur.
In summary, ICD-10’s increased specificity offers health systems the potential for considerable cost savings through more accurate trend and cost analysis. It will improve the ability to monitor service and resource utilization, analyze healthcare costs, monitor outcomes, and measure performance. This greater detail on procedure types will allow providers to evaluate their own performance relative to their peers.
Ann Frischkorn Chenoweth, MBA, RHIA, is Director of Industry Relations and Market Research at 3M Health Information Systems.