May 17, 2020

Fact: ICD-10 will benefit medical coders more than ICD-9

4 min
Why ICD-10 will benefit medical coders more than ICD-9.jpg
Written by FriedaW For the last so many decades, weve been using ICD-9. ICD-9, which stands for International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition...

Written by Frieda W


For the last so many decades, we’ve been using ICD-9. ICD-9, which stands for International Classification of Diseases, 9th edition is the system of codes used to classify every disease and medical condition. It contained 14,000 diagnosis codes and 4,000 procedural codes which sufficed us for over a couple of decades. But the world of medicine is constantly evolving and new diseases and health conditions are discovered almost every day, and this is where ICD-9 falls short. It doesn’t contain specific codes that we as coders can use to classify new health conditions and diseases. And that’s the reason we need to make the transition to ICD-10, a new structure of codes that will do justice to the ever-growing world of medicine.


What’s So Different about ICD-10?

·         Most importantly, the new codes reflect the latest medical jargon and devices.

·         ICD-10 is devised keeping in mind the need to include new codes with the passage of time and discovery of health conditions. Thus the coding system is flexible unlike ICD-9 which was limited in structure which brings us to the next point.

·         The ICD-10 CM procedural coding system provides exhaustive descriptions and detailed outlines for procedures. ICD-10 contains a whopping 68,000 diagnosis (also called clinical modification or CM) codes and 72,000 procedural codes. That’s a gargantuan leap from ICD-9.

·         The difference isn’t only in the number of codes, but also in how they’re presented. ICD-10 codes are seven characters in length with a decimal point after the first three digits. The first three digits are similar to ICD-9 in the info they convey, but the remaining four digits represent specific information and add laterality to the code, which ICD-9 codes lacked. This will facilitate accurate documentation which is a critical step in quality patient care. The increased level of specificity also simplifies coding and billing procedures.

·         The ICD-10 diagnosis coding system improves administrative analysis and the clinical data captured by the codes facilitates medical research.


The Benefits of using ICD-10

Healthcare systems across the country are expected to witness considerable advantages once implementation of ICD-10 gets under way:

-          Fewer claim rejections – The chances of claims being rejected because of miscoded, improper, and missing information get substantially reduced; and billing and reimbursement procedures will be more efficient.

-          Thanks to the specificity and expanded nature of the codes, the healthcare industry has access to quality data facilitating extensive research related to diseases, their diagnoses, treatment plan and their efficiencies, and prevention.

-          This in turn leads to improved disease management and better health outcome which is beneficial to public health.


Recognizing these advantages, what do you think of ICD-10? ICD-10 will come into effect October 2014 and though it might seem a year away, it’s not very far off really! Everyone from doctors to the medical coding and billing community needs to transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, because one year later, ICD-9 will be rendered obsolete. As a medical coder, it’s time you understand the importance and benefits of ICD-10 and prepare yourself to switch over to the new coding structure.


The impending implementation of ICD-10 also highlights the training needs of the healthcare industry, especially the medical coders. Several institutes including offer ICD-10 training as part of their healthcare courses. Among the better ones are CareerStep, which has been recognized as one of the top 50 education companies on the Inc. 5000.

The CareerStep corporate trainingmodule is a comprehensive solution developed to ease the transition of your organization from ICD-9 to ICD-10 and can be customized to suit your organizational needs.


The sooner you receive training, the better, because you don’t want to be left untrained when ICD-10 eventually rolls out next fall. And from what I know, if medical coding is your bread and butter, then you’re in for a better future, because there’s going to be a dearth of trained medical coders who can handle the complex ICD-10 structure. Even better news – the need for trained coders is expected to increase by (hold your breath), 21% (As stated by BLS), in this decadealone! Which means that receiving ICD-10 training will only solidify your position in the healthcare industry. So buckle up and get ready to embrace this newcomer that’s just waiting to revolutionize the healthcare industry for good!

Share article

Apr 30, 2021

The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone

Jonathan Colehower
5 min
The challenges to vaccine distribution affecting everyone
Jonathan Colehower, CEO at CargoChain, describes the COVID-19 vaccine distribution challenges impacting every country, organisation and individual...

While it is comforting to know that vaccines against COVID-19 are showing remarkable efficacy, the world still faces intractable challenges with vaccine distribution. Specifically, the sheer number of vaccines required and the complexity of global supply chains are sure to present problems we have neither experienced nor even imagined. 

Current projections estimate that we could need 12-15 billion doses of vaccine, but the largest vaccine manufacturers produce less than half this volume in a year. To understand the scale of the problem, imagine stacking one billion pennies – you would have a stack that is 950 miles high. Now, think of that times ten. This is a massive problem that one nation can’t solve alone.  

Production capacity 

Even if we have a vaccine – can we make enough? Based on current projections, Pfizer expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses this year. Moderna is working to expand its capacity to one billion units this year. Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine producer, is likely to produce 60% of the 3 billion doses committed by AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Sanofi. This leaves us about 7 billion doses short. 

Expanding vaccine production for most regions in the world is complicated and time-consuming. Unlike many traditional manufacturing operations that can expand relatively quickly and with limited regulation, pharmaceutical production must meet current good manufacturing practice (CGMP) guidelines. So, not only does it take time to transition from R&D to commercial manufacturing, but it could also take an additional six months to achieve CGMP certification. 

The problem becomes even more complex when considering the co-products required. Glass vials and syringes are just two of the most essential co-products needed to produce a vaccine. Last year, before COVID-19, global demand for glass vials was 12 billion. Even if it is safe to dispense ten doses per vial, there is certain to be significant pressure on world supply of the materials needed to package and distribute a vaccine.

It is imperative drug manufacturers and their raw material suppliers have clear visibility of production plans and raw material availability if there is any hope of optimizing scarce resources and maximising production yield.

Distribution requirements

It is widely known by now that temperature is a critical factor for the COVID-19 vaccine. Even the regions with the most developed logistics infrastructures and resources needed to support a cold-chain network are sure to struggle with distribution.

For the United States alone, State and local health agencies have determined distribution costs will exceed $8.4 billion, including $3 billion for workforce recruitment and training; $1.2 billion for cold-chain, $1 billion vaccination sites and $0.5 billion IT upgrades.  

The complexity of the problem increases further when considering countries such as India that do not have cold-chain logistics networks that meet vaccine requirements. Despite India’s network of 28,000 cold-chain units, none are capable of transporting vaccines below -25°Celsius. While India’s Serum Institute has licensed to manufacture AstraZeneca’s vaccine, which can reportedly be stored in standard refrigerated environments, even a regular vaccine cold chain poses major challenges.

Furthermore, security will undoubtedly become a significant concern that global authorities must address with a coordinated solution. According to the Pharmaceutical Security Institute, theft and counterfeiting of pharmaceutical products rose nearly 70% over the past five years. As with any valuable and scarce product, counterfeits will emerge. Suppliers and producers are actively working on innovative approaches to limit black-market interference. Corning, for example, is equipping vials with black-light verification to curb counterfeiting.

Clearly, this is a global problem that will require an unprecedented level of collaboration and coordination.

Disconnected information systems 

While it is unreasonable to expect every country around the world will suddenly adopt a standard technology that would provide immediate, accurate and available information for everyone, it is not unreasonable to think that we can align on a standard taxonomy that can serve as a Rosetta Stone for collaboration. 

A shared view of the situation (inventory, raw materials, delivery, defects) will provide every nation with the necessary information to make life-saving decisions, such as resource pooling, stock allocations and population coverage.

By allowing one central authority, such as the World Health Organization, to organize and align global leaders to a single collaboration standard, such as GS1, and a standard sharing protocol, such as DSCSA, then every supply chain participant will have the ability to predict, plan and execute in a way that maximises global health.

Political influence and social equality 

As if we don’t have enough stress and churn in today’s geopolitical environment, we must now include the challenge of “vaccine nationalism.” While this might not appear to be a supply chain problem, per se, it is a critical challenge that will hinge on supply chain capabilities.

In response to the critical supply issues the world experienced with SARS-CoV-2, the World Health Organization, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) formed Covax: a coalition dedicated to equitable distribution of 2 billion doses of approved vaccines to its 172 member countries. Covax is currently facilitating a purchasing pool and has made commitments to buy massive quantities of approved vaccines when they become available.  

However, several political powerhouse countries, such as the United States and Russia, are not participating. Instead, they are striking bilateral deals with drug manufacturers – essentially, competing with the rest of the world to secure a national supply. Allocating scarce resources is never easy, but when availability could mean the difference between life and death, it becomes almost impossible.

Global production, distribution and social equality present dependent yet conflicting realities that will demand global supply chains provide complete transparency and an immutable chain of custody imperative to vaccine distribution. 

The technology is available today – we just need to use it. We have the ability to track every batch, pallet, box, vile and dose along the supply chain. We have the ability to know with absolute certainty that the vaccine is approved, where and when it was manufactured, how it was handled and whether it was compromised at any point in the supply chain. Modern blockchain technologies should be applied so that every nation, institution, regulator, doctor and patient can have confidence in knowing that they are making an impact in eradicating COVID-19.

Share article