ICD-10: Lots more codes, one more year to get ready
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When the use of ICD-10 diagnosis codes becomes mandatory (this was due to happen on Oct. 1, but has been delayed to 2015), physicians will have to use a much more granular system to represent their diagnoses to payers. How much more granular? ICD-9 contains about 13,000 codes; ICD-10 has about 68,000. ICD-10 codes can be longer — up to seven characters, compared to five for ICD-9.

There are many steps practices should take to ensure that they are ready for the compliance deadline; see May’s Management in Practice column for a complete suite of compliance information and resources.

Among those steps are learning the new codes. The two body diagrams below demonstrate how many more options a dermatologist diagnosing malignant melanoma at a specific site will have in ICD-10.