After what seemed like little more than the blink of an eye, ICD-10 is already obsolete. The World Health Organization (WHO) has been hard at work on ICD-11 preparation, and this latest update to the world of diagnosis coding will make its debut in May. Though it will likely be several years before this new system is a mandated standard across the country, practices should begin ICD-11 preparation at once in order to to make sure they will be ready.

ICD-11 promises a host of new improvements over its predecessor, not the least of which is better functionality within electronic health records (EHRs). The new classification system will contain up to 13 dimensions, meaning that codes will be more specific than ever before. As of now, ICD-11 codes are expected to have four characters before the decimal point and up to three after, meaning that coders will need to memorize brand new codes for many common conditions.

The new system will also add several entirely new sections, including:

  • Diseases of the Blood and Blood-Forming Organs
  • Disorders of the Immune System
  • Conditions Related to Sexual Health
  • Sleep-Wake Disorders
  • Traditional Medicine (patterns and treatments derived from traditional Chinese Medicine techniques and still used in much of Asia today)
  • Supplemental V Codes used to describe a patient’s disabilities and function status
  • Supplemental Extension Codes used to provide additional information such as severity, history, presence on admission, etc.

In addition, ICD-11 will remove and consolidate some sections, such as “I” for cardiology and “O” for obstetrics.

Though ICD-11 may still be years away from becoming the default method of reporting conditions in the U.S., its introduction in May means that other countries will be using it before we know it. All practices should begin at least a basic level of ICD-11 preparation in order to begin familiarizing the staff with the changes and minimizing any adverse effects when the transition day finally comes.