With little (or zero) fanfare, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently posted on their website the latest updates to the ICD-10 code. For those of us who aren’t intimately familiar with the “ICD-10” code, this is the giant list of official diagnostic codes our physicians use to mark our diagnosis for billing, medical records, research, and other purposes. It’s the official codebook of all possible (and billable) conditions we can have.
An update to this list is not usually a newsworthy event for SAA, or the spondylitis community (or the average person, really). However, this particular update included something surprising, something that IS important to those in our community living with axial spondyloarthritis who do not have spinal damage / fusing visible on x-ray: the adoption of an official diagnostic code specifically for non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA).
This seemingly small development has actually been years in the making, and the Spondylitis Association of America is proud to have been a champion advocating for the formal, and systemic recognition of non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, and for those in our community living with this form of spondyloarthritis.
From writing letters, listening to our community, and strategizing with key opinion leaders, to having our CEO travel to Baltimore, Maryland to speak on the record at a CDC hearing (accompanied by a patient) on the matter, SAA has been amplifying the patient’s voice and ensuring decision makers always keep top of mind the human beings their decisions impact.
The official adoption of a new diagnostic code for nr-axSpA will go into effect on October 1, 2020, and has real world meaning extending to research and tracking of the condition, ability to diagnose and prescribe treatments for, as well as the more intangible recognition and validation it symbolizes by regulatory systems as well as the medical community.
Nr-axSpA is indexed to the M46.80 category, and those wanting to see it in the full ICD-10 coding manual can find it here, on page 28 of the pdf.
You can also download SAA’s brand new, in-depth brochure, “What is Non-radiographic Axial Spondyloarthritis” here!