UMBC ebiquity
Got a problem? There’s a code for that

Got a problem? There’s a code for that

Tim Finin, 8:43am 15 September 2011

The Wall Street Journal article Walked Into a Lamppost? Hurt While Crocheting? Help Is on the Way describes the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision that is used to describe medical problems.

“Today, hospitals and doctors use a system of about 18,000 codes to describe medical services in bills they send to insurers. Apparently, that doesn’t allow for quite enough nuance. A new federally mandated version will expand the number to around 140,000—adding codes that describe precisely what bone was broken, or which artery is receiving a stent. It will also have a code for recording that a patient’s injury occurred in a chicken coop.”

We want to see the search engine companies develop and support a Microdata vocabulary for ICD-10. An ICDM-10 OWL DL ontology has already been done, but a Microdata version might add a lot of value. We could use it on our blogs and Facebook posts to catalog those annoying problems we encounter each day, like W59.22XD (Struck by turtle, initial encounter), or Y07.53 (Teacher or instructor, perpetrator of maltreat and neglect).

Humor aside, a description logic representation (e.g., in OWL) makes the coding system seem less ridiculous. Instead of appearing as a catalog of 140K ground tags, it would emphasize that it is a collection of a much smaller number of classes that can be combined in productive ways to produce them or used to create general descriptions (e.g., bitten by an animal).


One Response to “Got a problem? There’s a code for that”

  1. Cassie Kiehl Says:

    Thanks for a succinct article on suggestions for leveraging semantic specifications with ICD-10. Unfortunately, the ICD-10 OWL DL will not work with the system that the US is using. Ours is called ICD-10-CM (clinical modification) for diagnoses and ICD-10-PCS (procedure coding system) for procedures. The ICD-10 is the WHO version.

    Overall this highlights the strong need for computing when dealing with these codes. So many providers are used to using printed manuals and printed bills with checkboxes. The sheer magnitude and specificity of the new system requires a computing approach.