Health Language Blog

How to Bridge the Gap Between SNOMED CT and ICD-10 CM

Posted on 07/22/15


For a clinician in a busy clinical environment, the primary focus is on patient care. The objective of Meaningful Use is, of course, to facilitate efficient and effective patient care. But complex problems of integration sometimes posed by EHRs can slow things down if not managed appropriately, and can even create the opposite of the efficient patient care setting that everyone—patients, clinicians, administrators—wants. For example, in the case of SNOMED CT and ICD-10-CM, we’re required to document problems and diagnoses in two very different languages.

Translating between standards is not a new requirement. Health Language has created an effective solution to carry out this translation and bridge the gap between these two quite different taxonomies. This leads to increased efficiency at the point of care, and prevents the domino effect of billing problems due to imprecise or inaccurate coding that can tax clinical resources.

Using the NLM Maps

The National Library of Medicine has provided some maps from SNOMED CT source concepts to ICD-10-CM. Health Language has expanded these maps in several ways to facilitate their implementation in the EMR. For example, the coding attributes that are required to select a billable ICD-10-CM codes are easily accesses:

  • Information about the side of the body on which a condition occurs (laterality).
  • Information about the type of encounter with the patient.
  • In the case of pregnancies, information about trimester

In addition, HL, has added many clinical attributes that distinguish between the ICD-10-CM codes to facilitate choosing the best code to describe in more detail the patient’s condition. For example:

  • Information about the chronicity of a condition. Heart failure can be acute or chronic.
  • Disease process – such as heart failure
  • Severity – e.g. Moderate, Mild, or Severe Asthma Causative agent such as asthma due to drugs, chemicals, pollen, dust, etc.

It is easy to see how the addition of these ICD-10-CM attributes can really assist in selecting the best codes to speed and improve the documentation process.

Delivering the Added Specificity a Provider Needs

The Health Language SNOMED CT to ICD-10 maps with the coding and clinical attributes let the provider select the extra options needed to generate the correct ICD-10 code for the precise condition described during the clinical interaction.

The additional map choices presented in the Health Language SNOMED CT to ICD-10 maps have been identified by seasoned coding experts as the choices most likely to yield the correct ICD-10 code. These expanded options, gleaned from the hands-on experience of professionals, add more than just another tier of choices—they add a touch of human awareness and insight to an EHR integration that can otherwise feel hopelessly limited in its vocabulary. In short, Health Language SNOMED CT to ICD-10 maps bridge the gap between SNOMED CT and ICD-10-CM. With this complicated and potentially frustrating step out of the way, the health care provider can focus on what’s important—providing excellent care.

What has your experience been with mapping SNOMED CT interactions to ICD-10 codes?

How to Bridge the Gap Between SNOMED CT and ICD-10-cm White Paper

Topics: ICD-10, SNOMED CT

About the Author

Dr. Brian Levy, MD is Vice President and Chief Medical Officer with Health Language, part of Wolters Kluwer Health. He holds an MD and BS from the University of Michigan. Go Blue!