Healthcare organizations and medical practices around the world have become accustomed to the ICD-10 medical coding standard. But the ICD-11 standard is slated to become the new norm in some countries beginning January 2022, with the US expected to follow behind eventually. The 11th revision of the coding standard will take some time to learn; it has five times as many codes as ICD-10.

So what’s new? Changes to the mental health ICD-11 codes are responsible for some of the new codes. Gender identity disorders (now known as gender incongruence) used to be listed as mental disorders. Other sexual health additions include sexual dysfunctions, sexually transmitted infections, and contraceptives as well as changes to sexual anatomy.

ICD codes also cover new neurodevelopmental disorders such as compulsive sexual behavior and gaming disorders (covered under impulse control disorders). The World Health Organization, the body responsible for ICD-11 revising, also included sections on sleep-wake disorders, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, and others.

There are also updates to the coding structure. ICD-10 and earlier versions used a decimal coding system, which limited the number of sections and sometimes inappropriate placements of health concerns. ICD-11 will move to an alphanumeric coding system. This will allow for more variety in placements, hence the explosion of new codes.

Along with the versatility of new codes, ICD-11 is also completely electronic, making it more accessible to countries around the globe. It can be found in 43 different languages, making the electronic health recording system and international classification of diseases much more available.

How to prepare for ICD-11 changes

With so many more codes, it will take plenty of patience and training to make sure everyone is able to keep the medical billing process rolling with little to no issues. Here are a few tips on preparing your organization for ICD-11 changes and updates.

1. Start preparing now.
There are thousands of new chapters and codes to familiarize yourself with. In fact, some of these are completely new and are unfamiliar to people that have been working in medical coding for many years. So, start reading up on the codes now to make the transition easier and to avoid surprises as much as possible.

2. Upgrade necessary software.
Revenue cycle management software and EHR should be updated as soon as possible to the most recent versions. This will make it easier to implement ICD-11, rather than adding software upgrades at the same time as learning new codes.

3. Hire the right people.
If you don’t already have a medical coding specialist in your office, it’s important to hire one now. ICD-11 will be a big change for everyone, and without a medical coding leader, it will be even harder to transition. You may want to consider training for your existing staff.

A trained medical coding specialist will not just lend a hand in learning ICD-11, but will also assist in reducing other coding errors, enhancing patient care, and helping optimize revenue cycle management. An employee that you can rely on will help improve the efficiency of your office and the whole organization.

Work with Specialists

We understand what a big change ICD-11 will be for your organization. If you are still unsure how you and your team will transition to using the ICD-11 medical coding standard, contact our experienced team at MBA Medical Billing Services so we can help.