Jeff Stark, MD: How ICD-10 Codes for nr-ax-SpA Affect Other Rheumatic Diseases

Patients and clinicians alike will have a better understanding of clinical processes.

With a new ICD-10 code for nonradiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-ax-SpA), new questions arise. Namely, how does this new indication affect other rheumatic diseases?

In a recent interview with HCPLive®, Jeff Stark, MD, head of US medical immunology at UCB, said the new indexing gives rheumatologists a sense of optimism for what it means for new disease state processes as they emerge.

“Certainly in the field of rheumatology, we’ve begun to appreciate new categories of diseases that didn’t even exist in our consciousness a decade ago,” Stark said.

The important take-home message for the community, he added, is that there is a process by which clinical understanding can be captured in administrative systems that support clinical activities. This is a new opportunity to advocate for change that allows providers to accurately capture nr-ax-SpA patients in their records, to study them through data generation, and empower them through the recognition that being included in official documents provides.

Before an indexing subgroup for nr-ax-SpA existed, many patients and providers alike were disheartened at the lack of ability to properly diagnose or be diagnosed with the condition. It was difficult to align an accurate diagnosis with payers.

Now, these patients are being recognized for a disease that typically took decades to diagnose and providers can be optimistic about new disease state processes.