Switching to a new medical coding system won’t be easy, but when combined with data science and machine learning, ICD-10 presents enormous potential benefits for both the financial and the clinical sides of healthcare.
Part of why the healthcare industry is such a notorious laggard in jumping on the Big Data bandwagon is that every attempted change faces a huge domino effect, rendering many good ideas useless until everyone — and everything — is ready. One big step in the right direction, however, is an important upgrade to the computerized codes used for electronic medical records (EMR), which will take hold in the next year or two. These codes, known as ICD or International Classification of Diseases, determine what ailments patients have and how much they and their insurers should pay for a treatment. The set of codes, currently called ICD-9, is scheduled for its 10th revision this fall (but there may be a year-long delay). The new ICD-10 codes allow for much greater detail than the existing codes in describing illnesses, injuries, and treatment procedures. Through the use of data science techniques, this increased granularity is expected to allow for improved tracking of public health threats and trends as well as better analysis of treatments.