The work of documenting diseases, diagnoses, signs and symptoms gets better with the coming update to the medical coding system. Global health officials will be releasing the 11th revision of the International Classification of Disease (ICD-11) by 2018.
The World Health Organization (WHO) in Geneva has been crafting a new ICD code to modernize the system. This way, the ICD will be more suitable to use in electronic health applications and information systems.
Most importantly, ICD-11 will harmonize with the equally prestigious Systematized Nomenclature of Medicine–Clinical Terms (SNOMED-CT). Consequently, this will expectedly increase ICD-11’s value with regards to patient care, population health, and clinical research.
Health experts view the legacy of ICD-10-CM and its earlier iterations as preserved for ages. However, ICD-11 will be in harmony with SNOMED-CT, which has over 300,000 “concepts.”
Although quite similar to ICD-10, SNOMED-CT underwent development for different reasons. Each of these two code sets are structurally unique and significantly different in their levels of complexity.
Comparatively, the present ICD-10-CM has reportedly over 65,000 codes widely covering a range of healthcare “concepts.” Most of the ICD-10-CM codes represent “classifications,” or a group of similar concepts.
As for SNOMED-CT, each of its 300,000 concepts only has one meaning. Furthermore, there are reportedly over 600,000 strictly defined “synonyms,” called “descriptions” in SNOMED-CT.
The 300,000 medical concepts are reportedly divided into hierarchies. Each hierarchy may be as diverse to include human body structures, clinical findings, geographic locations, and pharmaceutical or biological products.
Moreover, an individual number represents each concept. As a result, coders can simultaneously use several concepts to describe a complex medical condition.
Add to this, SNOMED-CT has over a million relationships between concepts, called “attributes.” To manage this level of complexity, its authors formed this nomenclature system by using a derivative of artificial intelligence known as description logics.
In 2010, the WHO entered into a collaborative agreement with the International Health Terminology Standards Development Organization (IHTSDO). The London-based IHTSDO, now with at least 29 member-countries, owns and maintains SNOMED-CT.
The aim was for physicians and other health care providers to use a standardized, multilingual vocabulary of clinical terminology. The use of standard codes and terms made it easier and faster for the electronic exchange of clinical health information.
With ICD-11, there are new and/or revised chapters. These reportedly include diseases of the blood and blood-forming organs, and disorders of the immune system.
Other new/revised chapters include conditions related to sexual health, sleep-wake disorders, extension codes, and traditional medicine. Also included will be key descriptions and definitions of each entity/category, previously unavailable with ICD-10.
Moreover, a semantic network of words and terms will simplify codes to terminologies related to mortality and morbidity, primary care and clinical care, research and public health. Also, it will reportedly include an international multilingual reference standard for scientific comparability.
Member nations usually adapt the new system based on their needs. Consequently, the adoption will take at least two more years before the implementation process begins.
Trained in either anatomy, epidemiology, physiology, or clinical terminology, medical coders are one of a kind. They get official recognition for their achievement, excellence, and expertise, especially if they become certified professionals. The ultimate credential is becoming a Certified Professional Coder (CPC) with an American Academy of Professional Coders (AAPC) license.
Medical coders simplify healthcare diagnoses and procedures, medical services and equipment, into universally acceptable alphanumeric codes. They transcribe and document doctors’ notes as well as lab results to become part of the medical records for diagnoses.
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