Health Information Management

Tip: Consider using GEMS during ICD-10 transition

APCs Insider, May 31, 2013

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General equivalence mappings (GEMs) are reference maps between ICD-9-CM and ICD-10-CM codes. They are a helpful way to start looking for a code when moving from ICD-9-CM to ICD-10-CM. But GEMs are not a substitute for learning how to code in ICD-10-CM/PCS.

Each entry in the GEMs represents a relationship between a code in the source set and its possible equivalents in the target set. In some cases, the GEMs provide a one-to-one match. For example, salmonella meningitis translates from ICD-9-CM code 003.21 to ICD-10-CM code A02.21.
More often, however, GEMs provide a one-to-many match.
They are tools to help the user understand, analyze, and make distinctions that manage the complexity, and to derive their own applied mappings if that is the goal.
The GEMs are more complex than a simple one-to-one crosswalk, but ultimately more useful. They reflect the relative complexity of the code sets clearly rather than masking it in an oversimplified way, he adds.
ICD-10-CM reflects the current clinical understanding and technological advancements of medicine, and the code descriptions are designed to provide a more consistent level of detail. It contains a more extensive vocabulary of clinical concepts, body part specificity, patient encounter information, and other components from which codes are built.
This tip is adapted from “GEMs a useful addition to ICD-10-CM transition tool kit” on the website.

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