Are you ready for ICD-10-CM?

These three basic steps will help you get started.

Get ready to say farewell to the ICD-9-CM diagnostic classification system. As of Oct. 1, 2015, psychologists and other health care professionals are required to use the ICD-10-CM code sets for diagnostic coding and billing purposes

There’s still time to prepare for ICD-10-CM, beginning with these three basic steps:

  1. Understand the basic structure of ICD-10-CM and how it differs from ICD-9-CM.

    While the codes generally used by psychologists in the earlier classification system were numeric, ICD-10-CM codes are all alphanumeric — for example, F10.2. The letter corresponds to the relevant chapter where the code is found. Clinical psychologists are most likely to use Chapter 5 — Mental, Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Disorders — where codes begin with the letter F. Health psychologists, neuropsychologists and others might find additional chapters important, such as Chapter 6, Diseases of the Nervous System, (Codes G00-G99). All psychologists will want to be familiar with Chapter 18, Symptoms, signs and abnormal clinical and laboratory findings, not elsewhere classified (Codes R00-R99). Within each chapter, disorders are clustered together so that similar disorders have similar codes.

    The ICD-10-CM system allows for greater specificity in coding compared with its predecessor. In particular, the substance use disorder codes listed in Chapter 5 are more extensive than in ICD-9-CM. For example, F10.2 is Alcohol dependence, F10.23 is Alcohol dependence with withdrawal and F10.231 is Alcohol dependence with withdrawal delirium. 

  2. Take advantage of resources to keep the ICD-10-CM codes handy and help you convert ICD-9-CM codes to ICD-10-CM.

    The ICD-10-CM Tabular List of Diseases and Injuries is a useful starting point. It opens with a table of contents that lists the chapters and includes links to each.

    To download this list, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and select ICD-10-CM List of codes and Descriptions under the “FY 2015 release of ICD-10-CM” section. This will open an FTP directory. Select “” to access a PDF version of the document. Open or save the file to your computer, and then open the PDF labeled FY15_Tabular.

    Psychologists may also want to use one of the ICD code conversion sites available at no charge such as to convert familiar ICD-9-CM codes to ICD-10-CM codes. Users may initially want to double check the result by looking up the codes in the downloaded ICD-10-CM (see preceding paragraph).

    Corresponding ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM codes are listed for each diagnosis in the DSM-5.

  3. Learn more from APA and the APA Practice Organization.

    In addition to downloading the entire ICD-10-CM from the CDC website, psychologists have other options to learn about the ICD and to locate the necessary codes. APA’s “A Primer for ICD-10-CM Users” is a small, spiral-bound book that provides a helpful overview of the ICD-10-CM and contains all of Chapter 5 (the F codes related to mental, behavioral and neurodevelopmental disorders) as an appendix.

    Members of the American Psychological Association Practice Organization (APAPO) have access to a Web-based application free of charge that provides information about the ICD-10-CM, featuring diagnostic codes for Chapter 5. Users are able to access and navigate content by searching for key words, by browsing a list of diagnoses featured in the ICD-10-CM or by exploring several graphical interfaces. Members can use the application by logging in at MyAPA and going to “Practice Tools.”

The APA Practice Organization and APA will continue to help members prepare to begin using the ICD-10-CM as the Oct. 1, 2015, transition date approaches. 

Members with questions can email the APA Practice Directorate Office of Practice Policy and Research or call (800) 374-2723, ext. 5911.