As discussed in a previous blog, ICD-11 made its official debut back in May. But before you scramble to throw away your ICD-10 books and make room for the latest information, it’s important to understand that true ICD-11 implementation is still years away. As of right now, the official version of this new disease database hasn’t even been finalized; in fact, the World Health Assembly won’t even meet to vote on it until May of 2019.

With this in mind, the true implementation date for the system won’t occur until the beginning of 2022. Given the USA’s delay in switching from ICD-9 to ICD-10, there is little reason to believe that our healthcare industry will require the switch to ICD-11 as soon as it is available. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must still review and clinically modify the entire code list, a process that is expected to take anywhere from two to four years.

In the meantime, there are already several confirmed changes to ICD-11 as outlined below:

  • An increase from 21 distinct chapters to 30 distinct chapters.
  • An increase from 3 numerical category places to 4 numerical category places (e.g., 1A00.00). These codes will always have a letter as the second digit and a number as the third.
  • An overall code range stretching from 1A00.00 to ZZ9Z.ZZ.
  • Two different levels of subcategories.
  • Extension codes that all start with an X and fall within their own category.

Though it may be several years before American practices and facilities are forced to switch to ICD-11, reviewing the system now will only make things easier in the future. The sooner that all medical coders start studying this format and sharing it with their coworkers, the smoother everything will be when the transition finally occurs, even if it may not be for quite some time.