Coming to a mobile phone near you: ICD-10 apps

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale

When Palmdoc said that its ICD-10 for WebOS is ready and available, the application joined a small and somewhat disconnected collection of mobile wares that may be emerging to help with the new code sets. But will they prove useful?

In the case of Palmdoc's ICD-10 for WebOS, doctors and their staff can use the software on a device running Palm's Web OS to search for ICD-10 codes. The self-professed Palmdoc Alan Teh explained in a post announcing the app this month that it takes a “hybrid approach,” meaning users can search the database whether they're online or offline. He envisions it being useful for “mobile users who want to look up ICD-10 codes on their devices, wherever they are and not restricted by the availability of a hard copy or workstation,” he commented in an e-mail exchange.

[Related: McKinsey: ICD-10 among regs demanding payers to change 90 percent of IT architecture. See also: Understated aspects of ICD-10, part 3.]

Indeed, a large physician audience could fit that description. Spyglass Consulting, in fact, published survey results last month that found 94 percent of physicians are currently using smartphones to access medical information, among other tasks. In its finding, Spyglass noted that 44 percent use the iPhone while 25 percent opt for the BlackBerry – though it didn't list market share of Palm or Google Android-based phones.

Mobile applications are gaining purchase in other healthcare realms already. Some industry observers are speculating, for instance, that the iPad can accelerate a new era of care. And the Department of Health and Human Services said it intends to share health data for new applications, mobile programs among those. 

Similar ICD-10 applications, meanwhile are coming to market for Android, BlackBerry, and the iPhone. Ringful Health offers The ICD Helper, a software tool that the company claims enables users to convert codes between ICD-9 and ICD-10. The "app relieves this pain by providing a calculator-like side screen that is dedicated to ICD codes search and mapping,” Ringful Health's Web site says. Another iPhone-specific app is called, simply, ICD-10 On the Go.

For the Android, Appsbytes lists an ICD-10 application that works offline and contains more than 32,500 searchable codes.

Screenshots and demos of these applications are about as slick as ICD-10 codes can be, and they'll likely make physicians and any staff that use them look pretty good, but it's perhaps too early to tell how useful any of them will prove come deadline day, October 1, 2013.

“Most coding is done by computers or office staff which may not have access to smart phones as physicians do now,” explains Janice Young, program director of IDC's Health Insights unit. “I would look at this to be useful for one-off assessments, but expect that the practice management applications or ICD-10 remediation tools will do most of the shift.”

Of course, these little apps start at $0.99, so they might be worth the ticket nonetheless.

Editor's Note: Vote in our new reader poll! Will you use mobile phone apps to look up ICD-10 codes? We'll report the results and what they mean.