ICD-10 vs. Ebola: How to use data

November 4, 2014 in Medical Technology

I’m all for finding ways to use ICD-10 codes to solve the world’s problems. But I’m not sure it’s the right tool for the fight against Ebola.

I am familiar with the infographic that has been passed around social media in the past month.

I know that U.S. healthcare needs to be able to track diagnoses for public health. What about undiagnosed Ebola victims? If they are symptomatic, they’re able to spread the disease without anyone assigning an ICD-10 code. If we’re to use data to fight disease, we need to track more than one diagnosis. We need to track symptoms such as:

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Red eyes
  • Raised rash
  • Chest pain and cough
  • Stomach pain
  • Severe weight loss
  • Bleeding, usually from the eyes

Yeah, we can get ICD-10 codes for those symptoms, but there needs to be a way to report that data to a central location that can calculate the patterns quickly.

ICD-10-CM codes won’t be the whole answer. We need more data to fight Ebola. David Richards, co-founder and CEO of WANdisco, gives us a pretty good picture of how big data can be a big help preventing an Ebola epidemic.

He describes how cellphone data was used to spot outbreaks in Africa fairly quickly — which helped make decisions about where to focus healthcare resources.

In the United States, he says we need more than one data source:

“Big-data analytics is all about combining information from many different sources and analyzing them collectively to identify patterns. For disasters such as the current Ebola crisis, this means accessing health clinic reports, media updates, social media posts, information from public workers on the ground, transactional data from retailers and pharmacies, and travel ticket purchases alongside helpline data.”

So ICD-10-CM codes would just be part of the data needed. We need more that the A98.4 code.

Remember, I’m the blogger who suggested that a good “ICD-9 kills” campaign will advance ICD-10 implementation. Perhaps we can start tweeting “If we delay #ICD10 implementation, #Ebola wins.”

But we’re not going to face an Ebola epidemic before Oct. 1 because we don’t have an ICD-9 code for Ebola.

There is so much awareness and effort when it comes to preventing Ebola, we’re able to track it fine. But we do need more information when it comes to treating Ebola. Hopefully we can use clinical data to decrease the mortality rate.

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Article source: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/blog/icd-10-vs-ebola-how-use-data

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