Diagnosis Codes and Syndromic Surveillance

The long-awaited ICD-10 compliance date of October 1, 2015 is fast approaching, and we’ve spoken with many concerned physicians and technical contacts at acute care facilities about how these changes may affect EpiCenter senders. EpiCenter has been capable of accepting ICD-10 codes since the initial ICD-10 compliance date of October 1, 2013, and over the past year we have worked with dozens of hospitals and ambulatory care offices on successfully testing their syndromic surveillance feeds with ICD-10 codes.

ICD-10-CM codes can consist of up to 7 alphanumeric characters and allow for a great deal more specificity than ICD-9 codes, which consists of 5 characters, with only the first character alphanumeric. There are nearly five times as many ICD-10-CM as ICD-9 codes. Due in part to this change, ICD-9 codes cannot be directly mapped to ICD-10 codes, which has contributed to provider concerns over potential issues with the changeover.

Syndromic surveillance data, by definition, requires healthcare organizations to send data in a timely manner, and this timeliness means that the final diagnosis assigned to an ED interaction will typically not be available for some time after the patient has been discharged. There is definitely value in diagnosis data for syndromic surveillance, though. A study in North Carolina found that the availability of diagnostic data for syndromic surveillance leads to improved accuracy and analysis over chief complaint alone.

If you are a public health official interested in obtaining more diagnosis information from facilities in your jurisdiction or an EpiCenter sender looking for testing assistance in advance of the ICD-10 compliance date, contact us for additional details.