What is ICD

What is ICD and Why Is It Important?

If you work in the healthcare industry, you will already know what ICD stands for and you will also know why it is so important. But for those who have no experience of the healthcare industry or are just starting out as a coder and working with ICD 10 codes, you might be interested to learn a bit more about these codes and why they are so important. The good folk at Find-A-Code know all too well the role that these codes play in the healthcare industry. In fact, ICD is the most important coding classification system in medicine, used by medical professionals across the world. But what is it?

What Does ICD Mean?

ICD stands for International Classification of Diseases. ICD 10 coding is a system that uses a specific coding structure for every disease, symptom, abnormal finding, external cause, and circumstance of a disease.

What Do ICD Codes Look Like?

ICD-10 codes are alphanumeric and start with a letter which stands for the specific disease. For example, codes that start with the letter C denote cancer, while codes that start with the letter L are used for skin conditions. After the letter will be two digits followed by a decimal point and then another one or two digits. The digits indicate different types of disease.

ICD-11 codes are a new edition that include another two digits – one before the letter and one at the end. ICD-11 codes will not include the letters ‘I’ or ‘O’ to avoid any confusion with the digits 1 and 0. The first digit is used to determine the procedure category. As with ICD 10 codes, the second character is a letter used to describe the disease. The third character is a digit, and it is used to describe the objective of the procedure, such as reattachment or drainage. Character 4 is a digit, and this describes the body part or site where the procedure took place. Character 5 denotes the technique used while character 6 describes a device that was left in place if applicable, such as an implant or graft. The seventh character (again, if applicable) describes an additional feature of the treatment or procedure.

Who Uses ICD Codes?

ICD codes are used by everyone in the healthcare industry, from doctors to nurses and management to coders and billers. They are also used by insurance companies, agencies such as Medicare and Medicaid, and various policymakers. The ICD system was developed by the WHO (World Health Organization) and as such the codes are used by people in almost every country in the world.

Why is ICD So Important?

ICD is the standardized classification of diseases and because it is used throughout the world, allows for countries to share and compare data. With everyone working from the same coding structure, it minimizes the risk of mistakes cropping up.

ICD codes help to ensure that accurate information is recorded, and that reimbursement is made promptly and fairly. Using a coding structure also helps to ensure that correct medications are prescribed, ensuring better patient safety.


ICD codes are a type of language used within the medical community to standardize information relating to illnesses and diseases. Developed by the WHO, ICD codes are used across the world by doctors, nurses, administration staff, and insurance providers.

The use of ICD codes improves the procedure for fair and prompt reimbursement from insurance providers, allows for accurate sharing of information between various medical providers, and improves data collection among states and countries, allowing for better reporting of disease care and management.

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