Healthcare Coding Series: ICD

Healthcare Coding Series: ICD Codes blog post

ICD (International Classification of Diseases) is a standardized system for coding diseases and other health conditions, used for tracking and monitoring disease incidence and prevalence and for reimbursement purposes. It is the most well-known code set in the healthcare industry and is used by all providers and clinicians. This coding system has a long and complex history that dates back to the 19th century. The first ICD was developed by the French in 1850 by a statistician named Jacques Bertillon and was used to report the causes of death. In 1893 the Bertillon Classification, as it was named then, was adopted by the International Statistical Institute for international use and was revised again in 1900. It wasn’t until 1948 that the World Health Organization (WHO) adopted the sixth revision of the Bertillon Classification and eventually renamed it the International Classification of Diseases, which we now it today. 

Since the 1950s there have been over five revisions that have included more detailed codes for medical conditions and injuries, the addition of mental disorders, significant changes and expansions to the classification of diseases and injuries and included a new structure and expanded classification of diseases and injuries that is known currently as ICD-10-CM, which was published in 1992.  

The ICD-10-CM code set was not used in the United States until October 1, 2015 when the new code set was required to be used by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. This was a significant change for healthcare providers, as the new coding system included a much larger set of diagnostic and procedure codes than the previous version. The level of specificity for many codes was more detailed and provided a more accurate record of the patient’s condition and treatment.  

The latest revision, ICD-11-CM, was published in 2015 and was adopted by the World Health Assembly. Version 11 includes new features such as an online platform, the ability to capture more detailed data on health conditions and improved usability. This latest code set is used worldwide by healthcare providers, researchers, public health officials and policymakers around the world to classify and code diseases, injuries and other health-related conditions. As of now, the United States has not indicated when it might consider transitioning to ICD-11. It is interesting to note that the ICD-11 code set is also used by organizations such as the World Bank to measure the global burden of disease.  

The ICD code set is an important tool not only for population health and wellness, but for global health monitoring and decision-making. The ICD plays a critical role in tracking disease trends, monitoring public health and improving the quality of healthcare services.  

ICD provides a standardized way to capture and communicate health information, making it easier for different healthcare providers and organizations to share data and collaborate. It is easily understood and used by other systems and applications and is essential in promoting interoperability in healthcare enabling better coordination of care, supporting research and analysis and ultimately improving health outcomes for patients.