Billing & Coding Blog

A brief history about Medical Coding


The medical coding system originated in England during the 17th century when statistical data was collected from a system called the London Bills of Mortality, and the data was organized into numerical codes. The codes were then used to estimate the most recurrent causes of death.

Fast-forward …. The statistical examination of the Mortality Rate (causes of death) was then organized into the “International List of Causes of Death.” Over the years, the World Health Organization (WHO) used the list increasingly to help in tracking the mortality rates and the international health developments.

In 1977, the worldwide medical community recognized the ICD system, which then prompted the National Centers for Health Statistics (NCHS) to expand the study to include clinical information such as illnesses and injuries

The list was later developed into the International Classification of Diseases, ninth revision (ICD-9). ICD-9 only had 13,000 codes and the “other” and “non-specified” codes were used for numerous diseases, conditions, and injuries.

Due to the ever-changing nature of medicine and healthcare, WHO updated the ICD-9 system to the ICD-10 system  by publishing the 10th revision in 1994.

As early as 1995, the United Kingdom was using ICD 10 codes. France implemented it in 1997, Australia in 1998, Germany in 2000, and Canada in 2001. The United States healthcare community adopted ICD-10 for mortality reporting in 1999, and ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS for morbidity surveillance and reimbursement on October 1, 2015.

The ICD-10 has 68,000 codes, which eliminate a lot of the “other” and “non-specified” codes which help greatly with the reimbursement process. There will be a lot fewer denied claims and physicians and healthcare providers will be paid for specific services instead of generic cases.


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