Last week marked the 83rd annual American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) convention. This year’s event was held in Salt Lake City, and attendance seemed a bit lighter this year than in years’ past — perhaps the result of fiscal cautiousness given our struggling economy. However, one contingent of the AHIMA membership community was at the conference in full force — coders. This attendance, no doubt, was heavily influenced by the upcoming transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 code sets scheduled to take place in October 2013. ICD-10 will increase the sheer number of codes by nearly five times — from 14,000 to almost 70,000 — and changes the format of codes overall. For example, an ICD-9 code could only be up to five characters in length, where an ICD-10 code can be up to 7 characters long. These changes require upgrades to coding software and supporting backend systems, as well as significant change management on the part of the coding community. As expected, a number of ICD-10 solutions and services were on display in the AHIMA 2011 Exhibit Hall geared toward helping healthcare facilities meet these new coding requirements.
By Ken Congdon, editor in chief, Health IT Outcomes