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With the coming transition of the United States health care system from the ICD-9-CM diagnostic codes to the ICD-10-M, there are changes occurring on every level. While some may look at October 1, 2014 with dread, they can instead look to medical coding specialists trained in ICD-10 to help bridge the transition with confidence.

Because medical coding specialists are the ones who interact on a daily basis with diagnostic codes, they must be up-to-speed with ICD-10, while still having fluency with the ICD-9-CM system. Understanding both can help build a segue during the transition. With a medical coding training program like that provided by Allied Medical School, you will learn both systems and be able to be the go-to person to help make the coding transition smooth for your employer.

Bridging the Codes

Medical coding specialists can help physicians translate from one code to another by mapping and translating the code sets. Having the ability to perform a translation between ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM codes is important for medical coding professionals. Translation is particularly useful when bridging codes back to ICD-9-CM when you are analyzing and tracking data. An example of this is reporting on this calendar year in which both coding systems will be seen. In this case, it could be easier to bridge ICD-10 codes back to ICD-9-CM in order to create a standard data set. Additionally, bridging codes can help medical coders update records and programs for the physician.

Why the Change is Happening

The core reason why ICD-9-CM is being phased out is because, having been published in 1978, it is outdated. The system is simply no longer flexible enough to address the changes to medical diagnoses and procedures. And as new things are discovered with regard to methods, diseases and diagnoses, ICD-9-CM hasn’t met the space needs within its code to report these medical advances accurately. Comparing ICD-9-CM at 13,000 codes, with ICD-10-CM at 68,000 codes, the room and then some is found.

Difficulties in the translation process occur, though, because ICD-10-CM expands so much on the codes found within ICD-9-CM. It is the duty of the medical coder to watch for discrepancies, inaccurate or incomplete translations between the two code sets. Even then, it is not possible to perform a perfectly accurate translation from one code set to another because of the differences between the two of concept, format and structure.

How You Can Prepare

As you train to become a medical coding specialist through Allied Medical School’s program, you will be exposed to both coding systems. Having a foundation of training built upon both ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM, you will be better prepared to assist physicians with translating the coding systems and helping to ensure as smooth a transition as possible.

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