Posted in ICD-10 & Coding

By the way, ICD-11 still is on the way

Carl Natale
by Carl Natale
By the way, ICD-11 still is on the way

Not many healthcare professionals really enjoy being in a constant state of transition. Bureaucrats seem to be changing things all the time.

Just when physicians think they have a handle on ICD-10 coding, the federal government releases thousands of new and updated codes.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is supposed to present the ICD-11 code set to the world in 2018. That doesn't mean that U.S. healthcare will switch from ICD-10 to ICD-11 in 2018.

But ICD-11 won't be ready to use then. We had to add ICD-10 codes to the code set to work with our reimbursement and reporting needs. That's why there so many more ICD-10-CM codes than ICD-10 codes.

How long do you think it will take for the U.S. government to come up with ICD-11-CM/PCS?

I used to think the U.S. healthcare system could have usable ICD-11 codes in 2020. But I do not believe we can get through the regulatory process by then. So relax, we won't have ICD-11 to kick around anytime soon.

It's a database, not a list

By the way, the WHO is building a database. The ICD-11 content model is described as:

  • Represents ICD entities in a standard way
  • Allows computerization
  • Each ICD entity can be seen from different dimensions or “parameters”. E.g. there are currently 13 defined main parameters in the content model to describe a category in ICD.
    1. ICD Entity Title
    2. Classification Properties
    3. Textual Definitions
    4. Terms
    5. Body System/Structure Description
    6. Temporal Properties
    7. Severity of Subtypes Properties
    8. Manifestation Properties
    9. Causal Properties
    10. Functioning Properties
    11. Specific Condition Properties
    12. Treatment Properties
    13. Diagnostic Criteria
  • A parameter is expressed using standard terminologies known as “value sets”


It's complicated but not too complicated for the level of technology in most medical practices and hospitals. Medical coders can still use paper books to look up codes. Digital might be faster. But most healthcare professionals can relate to ICD-10 coding. It's basically more of the same thing they're used to.

How to hijack the ICD-11 development process

In life, we have two choices:

  1. We can let things happen to us.
  2. We can make things happen for us.

And the WHO gives us both options when it comes to ICD-11 codes. We can wait for them to release it in 2018.

Or we can become part of the process and help create the ICD-11 code database. The process allows for collaborators to:

  • "Make comments"
  • "Make proposals"
  • "Propose definitions of diseases in a structured way"
  • "Participate in Field Trials"
  • "Assist in translating ICD into other languages"

ICD-11 may be a work in progress but we have a chance to work on it and help mold it into something more useful in the United States.