A new tool could help providers efficiently prep for ICD-10.

As providers get back into gear for the ICD-10 changes to hit in 2015, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a free online tool to help healthcare facilities determine where more time and effort will be needed to prepare for the transition. 

The open source conversion tool — available at www.lussierlab.org/transition-to-ICD10CM — pulls data from the general equivalence mappings, or GEMs, created by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The intent is to help providers find areas of complexity in the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, says Andrew Boyd, M.D., an assistant professor in the department of biomedical and health information sciences at UIC. 

A paper co-authored by Boyd in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association shows that about 63% of code translations are relatively simple. For example, one ICD-9 code can be directly swapped for one ICD-10 code, or one ICD-9 code translates to two ICD-10 codes. But concepts, definitions and codes get entangled in other cases, he says.

“You might have one ICD-9 code that maps forward to several ICD-10 codes, and ICD-10 codes that map back to several other codes,” Boyd says. 

The tool allows users to input a list of their most commonly used ICD-9 codes in order to pinpoint these complex translations. Many of the ICD-9 codes for pressure ulcers, for example, fall into this convoluted category, with the ICD-10 allowing for combination codes that capture both the location of the pressure ulcer — including laterality — and its associated stage. 

The goal is to help facilities prioritize which code translations will take the most work and where to focus training for physicians, coders, MDS coordinators and nursing staff. Knowing which code translations will be the most complex also will help facilities coordinate which quality reports may be affected by the switch to ICD-10, Boyd says.