Monday, June 18, 2012

Using Augmented Reality Codes to Drive Sales (QR Codes on Steroids)

While QR codes can be embedded almost anywhere to act as a connector between the physical world and the web, augmented reality codes are a lot like QR Codes on steroids. Augmented reality (AR) is a term for a live direct or indirect view of a physical real-world environment whose elements are augmented by virtual computer-generated sensory input such as sound or graphics.

AR codes are gaining traction in direct mail. A case in point is a Colorado skiing destination that used AR to engage and entice young skiers and parents with a special postcard promotion. AR is not virtual reality but it projects existing visual or video information and adds additional layers of computer-generated graphics, pattern recognition, and other visual effects enabling you to see a digital world superimposed on the real one in 3D. A computer or cellphone essentially become your eyes. In the skiing destination’s campaign, the slopes leapt from a printed postcard. Users were directed to a special website and asked to hold the postcard they received in the mail in front of a webcam. With the symbol acting like key, virtual skiers experienced a 3-D ski lift, all surrounded by the sounds of children laughing as they learned the ins and outs of skiing down the mountains.

Imagine the possibilities if you are marketing an action-oriented theme park, a surfing vacation, real estate or even a university that wants to visually entice future students by using the latest technology to promote their engineering and technology curriculum. Insurance agents, financial service providers, legal and medical professionals and other service providers could send out a postcard with their photo along with a graphic image that could change with information, like a billboard, each week using the same postcard. This could extend the postcard’s life.

Augmented reality offers an entirely new avenue for direct mail, an eye-catching and meaningful way to ensure that mail continues as a mainstay in multichannel communications. Recently, a large discount retailer sent out an AR mailer to promote its expanded grocery section. The mailer included a coupon for soda that, when peeled off, revealed an AR code printed on the mailer. Used with a webcam, the code activated a 3-D AR image of the retailers’ new grocery aisles, all stocked with fresh food. A global auto manufacturer has used AR to encourage virtual test drives of its vehicles. A German toymaker has combined AR with its catalog to produce 3-D images of cars racing around tracks. AR captivates and provides consumers with a reason to hold onto printed pieces which has a better chance of leading them to the next step.

You experience a taste of AR when you watch a televised football game. The yellow first down lines aren’t painted on the field itself, but inserted digitally to enhance your viewing experience. A Boeing researcher introduced AR in 1990. The movie Avatar used AR in its integrated marketing campaign to launch with Avatar teamed with Coke Zero. Movie fans could hold their Coke can with the Avatar symbol in front of their webcams and interact with parts of the movie on a “visceral” level.

Tracking isn’t a problem, since wherever a barcode is embedded on a printed piece; it instantly opens the door to targeted tracking. AR creates a real-time opportunity to monitor and adjust to consumer response in a fluid way whereby every time you click; the marketer knows you clicked and can see it. The icing on the AR marketing cake so to speak is clicks originated from a printed piece of mail.

Cost of AR is a caveat for smaller marketers and depends largely on its complexity. Creating the necessary three-dimensional renderings can cost upwards of $10,000 but could cost much less in the future as technology evolves. Cost can be tied to customer engagement, acquisition, and retention thanks to its measurability of the interactivity and technology. If the numbers work and the medium directly align with your target market, then executing an augmented reality campaign can both increase your profits and establish your company as an innovation leader.

AR today is like when e-mail and the internet were just beginning to catch on with the general public. In the past, a lot of AR was done to create something cool and new. More recently, companies began to realize it is more of a visual innovation tool than a fad. While AR may entice consumers, nothing substitutes good old-fashioned marketing principles. Consumers don’t have to buy what you offer, no matter how much effort has gone into a campaign. And that means that AR will not advance if user’s experience isn’t amazing. But if you can promise and more importantly deliver a remarkable experience, AR codes could become a natural progression from QR codes to the next big thing along with higher profits. Think of AR as QR codes on steroids but legal and a creative, eye-catching way to engage with your target market/s.

Are you interested in using AR and/or QR codes in a cross-channel marketing campaign that will be the envy of your competition? Let’s talk.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Take Direct Marketing to the Next Level with Personalized Url’s (PURLs)

In today’s increasingly web centric world, it is crucial to maintain an online presence. It is equally important to make sure that your website connects in a meaningful way with your target market/s. A personalized URL, also known as a PURL, gives your customers and prospects a feeling of importance, enabling you to maintain current relationships and build new ones in current and new markets. It also allows you to tailor your landing page directly to their interests; increasing the amount of time they spend on the page and therefore the likelihood of buying. A common example of a PURL is a web page with an URL such as in which “Michael Jones” is a recipient who receives a direct-mailer or email message that encourages him to visit the web page to learn more about its new cross-channel marketing capabilities. For each recipient on the list, the web address is unique to the recipient, as is the content of a web page. PURL techniques are similar to those used in variable-data printing, through the use of variable fields and pages that are linked to a database that contains information about each potential visitor. Often, the two are used hand in hand.

Utilizing cross media strategies, such as PURLs, engages your audience in your message, which increases response rates as compared to traditional direct-mail and email campaigns. If a visitor is asked to answer a few questions or provide information when he or she visits the PURL web page, the answers provided can then be immediately used to determine which secondary pages the visitor is directed to or what specific information is included on secondary pages. A PURL campaign also allows for a very detailed level of tracking, which can provide the host organization with better information with which to target their prospects or members. For example, if a PURL campaign microsite contains a landing page, two secondary pages, and a final page at which the visitor purchases a product, joins an organization, etc., the host organization can track which visitors left after the landing page and which visitors continued to the third page but left without completing a transaction. The latter group could be considered a stronger group of leads than the former, and the organization could market to each group accordingly.

PURL 101 at Miami University

A- Name personalization

A- Name personalization

B- Gender-based image of actual student including name, 
year of graduation, and student quote

C- Major specific image

D- Survey to further understand individual student interests

A- Image specific to major 

B- Image specific to gender 

C- Image based on student visited or not visited campus  

A- Personalized URL 

B- Text based on major 

C- Name personalization 

D- Address pre-populated 

E- Image based on major

College admissions/recruitment officers and marketers often ask what techniques work best to increase enrollment. PURLs actually play an integral role in accomplishing this. A case in point is Miami University. They recently conducted a cross-channel marketing campaign that integrated the relevance in direct mail, e-mail, and personalized URLs to engage with potential college-bound students. The campaign results were incredible. Web activity on the PURL (personalized landing page of the campaign) generated important information for Miami University. 76% of the unique visits on the PURL were from students who had received the prospect variable data mailer. That reinforced the importance of initiating contact with potential students as early as possible, ideally before their senior year in high school, to turn suspects into prospects before the final recruitment effort. It also demonstrated the effectiveness of 1-to-1 communications designed to direct students to personalized URLs containing targeted information and calls to action.

One significant call to action on the Miami Honors Program PURL was a carefully worded survey soliciting further information from respondents. 39% of the PURL visitors completed the survey form, a very high rate of response for an action that offered no incentive for participation. This indicated to Miami University that the survey was deemed relevant and easy to perform by respondents—useful information for future campaigns. Of the students who completed the survey, 89% had received the prospect variable data mailer —another indication that the personalized mailings were working. The survey yielded valuable insights about the types of students showing strong interest in the Honors Program. 42% of the survey respondents had already visited the campus, and 34% said they were very likely to visit in the future. 72% expect to study abroad during college. Business, engineering and biological sciences topped the list of projected major areas of study. 99% of respondents expressed interest in receiving future communications from Miami University. And more than 20% clicked through directly from the PURL to the Miami University Honors Program Application Page. All of this data will enable Miami University to refine its messaging and approach in future recruitment campaigns.

Here are the final results from the Miami University campaign using PURLs. They surpassed the target enrollment number by 30%, 91% of the student enrollment had received the data-driven mailer, and there was a 1,466% increase in response over the control. Furthermore, there was over a 6,000% advantage with the data driven mailer for suspects converting to prospects and printed pieces decreased by 29% using the targeted approach.

Along with our many direct mail marketing services, COF proudly offers our clients personalized URL marketing and other cross-channel marketing services. At COF, we help for-profit and nonprofits around the globe use personalized URL marketing to their best advantage, and we’ll be happy to assist you as well.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Increasing Marketing Campaign ROI with Variable Data Imaging

When COF/Control-o-fax was born in 1948, it was much harder to design and print marketing communications. Graphic designers didn’t have computers where they could load graphics and print them on paper within seconds. Offset printing began to gain steam in the 1940s and further in the 1950s due to improvements in ink, paper, and plates. However, variable data imaging was still light years away. Fast forward to 2012 and COF/Control-o-fax now offers variable data imaging which takes direct marketing to the next level.

Running a business calls for maximizing sales opportunities with current and prospective customers. However, no two customers are alike. What is the best way to handle this in your direct marketing? Often, it is to use variable data imaging which conforms to one-on-one marketing. The returns on variable data printing (VDP) vary from double the normal return at the basic level to 10-15 times the return for fully variable jobs. This depends upon content and content relevancy, but the technique presents an effective tool for vastly increasing

Variable data printing is a direct outgrowth of digital printing, which harnesses computer databases and digital print devices and highly effective software to create high-quality, full color documents, with a look and feel comparable to conventional offset printing. Variable data printing enables the mass customization of documents via digital print technology, as opposed to the ‘mass production’ of a single document using offset lithography. Instead of producing 10,000 copies of a single document, delivering a single message to 10,000 customers, variable data printing enables the printing of 10,000 unique documents with customized messages for each customer.

There are several levels of variable printing. The most basic level involves changing the salutation or name on each copy much like a mail merge. More complicated variable data printing uses 'versioning', where there may be differing amounts of customization for different markets, with text and images changing for groups of addresses based upon which segment of the market is being addressed. Finally there is full variability printing, where the text and images can be altered for each individual address. All variable data printing begins with a basic design that defines static elements and variable fields for the pieces to be printed. While the static elements appear exactly the same on each piece, the variable fields are filled in with text or images as dictated by a set of application and style rules and the information contained in the database.

Variable data imaging enables the cost effective means to create highly customized, targeted messages to your audience. Not only can you distribute printed pieces that are personalized with the recipient’s name, you can make the content and imagery variable so that it relates directly to the recipient. For example, if you are a college or university sending out a direct mailer to prospective students, you can utilize variable data printing by correlating a specific block of text or a different picture to a specific intended major for that student. Business majors may have a photo of a man (for male recipients) or woman (for female recipients) in a suit with a briefcase. Education majors may instead have a photo of a classroom setting.

Another way organizations effectively use variable data printing is in fundraising campaigns. When sending out direct mail donation letters, fundraisers often make promotional donation levels with the variable data based on previous year’s contributions. For example, if someone donated $1,000 last year, you wouldn’t want to send them the same promotional donation levels as someone who donated $100.

Thanks to technological advances including our new full-color digital printing capabilities, we now have the ability to provide in-line data imaging using software designed to format and flow the specified information and images onto printed pieces such as postcards, ID cards, brochures, flyers, envelopes, and more. Better yet, we are able to produce shorter, quicker runs on even the most complex printing jobs than in the past.

Even more so, we are getting ready to launch a cutting-edge service that allows marketers to work with familiar design tools and file formats, and utilize simple data files, to incorporate all the demographic, geographic, and psychographic information they know about their customers (i.e. name, address, occupation, age, gender, interests, hobbies, spending habits, etc.) into their direct mail campaigns in clever, relevant ways that get noticed.

But what’s even more exciting to consider is that more and more marketers are using their personalization knowledge and capabilities in other channels, such as websites, email and mobile messaging. The key is to start with what you know and grow from there. Clearly, you need to have an understanding of VDP before jumping into the more advanced cross-media capabilities. If you are willing to make the right investment by utilizing our vast capabilities in cross-media marketing technology and people, there are few limitations on what you can sell and deliver to your customers to maximize your ROI, even in the current challenging economic environment.


Mention code COFKNOWSVDI0612 and try our Variable Data Imaging at 10% off our already highly competitive pricing. This special offer expires 6/29/12. This offer cannot be combined with other offers.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Combining Mobile Marketing with Direct Mail and Receiving Postal Discount from U.S. Postal Service

Under government pressure to cut costs and create business models that make delivery more efficient, the U.S. Postal Service is offering the 2012 Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion to encourage commercial mailers to use mobile marketing tools -- such as QR codes -- on their mail.  QR codes have been growing in popularity in recent years.  They allow marketers to capture their audience and have them sent directly to their desired landing page.  QR codes are used by marketers in a variety of ways and can be placed virtually anywhere, from direct mail pieces to e-mails, publications, billboards and signs, on the back of business cards, and much more.    

During July and August, the Postal Service is reprising its 2D barcode promotion first launched last summer by offering an upfront 2 percent postage discount on Standard Mail and First-Class Mail letters, flats and cards (presort and automation) that include a two-dimensional barcode or print/mobile technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device. When scanned, the technology must activate a link directly to either a mobile-optimized Web page that allows the mail recipient to purchase a product or service or to a mobile-optimized and customized Web page uniquely tailored to the mail recipient and accessible by a personalized URL.  It isn’t often mailers get to save money by adding a something at virtually no cost which often has a very favorable impact on conversion rates.

"Mobile technologies continue to be one of the fastest-growing marketing sectors," said Gary Reblin, vice president, Domestic Products for the U.S. Postal Service. "During the holidays, mobile purchases were up from 5.5 percent of ecommerce sales in 2010 to 11 percent in 2011.  "The integration of direct mail with mobile technologies will not only improve the long-term value of direct mail but also increase returns for merchants," added Reblin.  According to MarketingProfs, 48 percent of U.S. mobile subscribers own a smartphone, and one in five U.S. smartphone owners scanned a QR code with their phones, as of Dec. 2011. The Direct Marketing Association estimates that marketing mail returns $12.75 for every $1 spent.  "Personalization has always been an effective attribute of direct mail, and studies show that it improves return on investment," said Reblin. "Tying personalization with mobile technology is the next obvious step to enhancing the value of both mail and mobile marketing."  Commercial mailers may register for the 2012 Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion now through Aug. 30, 2012. For more information, visit

Discount Requirements

Mailing Requirements
To be eligible for the discount, all the mail received must contain a 2-D barcode, and mailing documentation must be submitted electronically.

Postage must be paid using a Permit Imprint, Meter Permit, or Precancelled Stamp permit.

Mobile Commerce Requirements

If the barcode is used to facilitate mobile commerce...

Destination web page must contain information relevant to content on the mailpiece, and some or all of the service(s) and/or product(s) advertised in the mailpiece must be available for purchase on a mobile device.

Destination web pages must reside on a web site platform that allows shoppers to complete a financial transaction for the purchase of the good or service referenced in the mailpiece.The shopping and checkout experience must be completely mobile optimized, which means specifically designing your site for optimum performance when viewed on a mobile device, such as a smartphone.

Please visit the USPS site for all requirements.

Want to see your profits grow substantially as you save money on your mailing costs?  Speak with us about designing and implementing the cross-channel marketing campaign you always dreamed of or wish you had.  We can create a winning direct mail piece and customize it with a QR code that sends recipients to a specific landing page.  This results in a stronger connection with who you are targeting and gets your customers and prospects more engaged with your message.  We are experts at commercial printing and cross-channel marketing to maximize your ROI!
To learn more about QR codes, read our blog posting on 10 Ways Marketers Use QR Codes to Drive Profits. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

10 Ways Marketers Use QR Codes to Drive Profits

Premier source for printing, marketing, and office supplies.

QR Code (abbreviated from Quick Response Code) is the trademark for a type of matrix barcode (or two-dimensional code) first invented by Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in Japan in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process. More recently the system has become popular driving sales for auto makers and all kinds of marketers due to its fast readability and large storage capacity compared to standard UPC barcodes. The code consists of black modules (square dots) arranged in a square pattern on a white background. The information encoded can be made up of four standardized kinds ("modes") of data (numeric, alphanumeric, byte/binary, Kanji), or through supported extensions, virtually any kind of data.

QR codes are a fast growing marketing force. They act as a connector between the physical world and the web. People see a QR code, scan it on a mobile device, and are suddenly engaged and interested in what you have to offer when it is done properly. Even the U.S. Postal Service embraces QR codes. The 2012 Mobile Commerce and Personalization Promotion provides business mailers with an upfront 2 percent postage discount on Standard Mail® and First-Class Mail® letters, flats, and cards (presort and automation) that include a two-dimensional (2-D) barcode or print/mobile technology that can be read or scanned by a mobile device
Here are 10 ways marketers use QR codes to drive profits:

1.  Use QR Codes for Contact Info- Use a QR code on your business cards or website whereby individuals scanning the code can instantly download your contact info to their phone. For example, if you own a chiropractic practice, a QR code enables prospective clients to instantly download your contact details to their phone as ‘ABC Chiropractic Care’.  This means that your company will be on the top of the list if/when they need your services. Having a QR code on your business card connects prospective clients to your website or a lead generation page. 

2. Content is King!- Many companies starting out with QR codes make the mistake of directing consumers straight to their desktop website without offering an incentive or interesting content.  It is crucial to make sure your site is mobile-friendly and that you are offering consumers something more entertaining or educational that a basic run of the mill website or you’ll lose interest fast.  For example, Hoyfox Toyota of El Paso, TX, utilizes Toyota Denso QR technology which is attached to every pre-owned vehicle so while you’re on the lot, you can see inside the vehicle with as much detail as if you were to open the doors and sit inside. If you own a dental office, you could use the code on dental related handouts that will connect the patient to informative articles on your website, or you could offer a code on the next appointment card that takes your patients to an informative dental implant video that could drive sales of this service.

3. Use QR Codes to Offer Discounts and Coupons- All consumers like special offers so give them an incentive to scan your code and interact with your product or brand by offering a discount or coupon after scanning. College and university fundraisers could test a QR code offering a 10% discount for an upcoming gala on all donations over $100 by a specified date.

4. Know Your Target Market/s- Targeting QR codes to the masses may seem like a good idea, but if you’re targeting an audience with a low smartphone penetration rate or who doesn’t know how to scan a QR code, you run the risk of alienating and frustrating your audience, which could actually have a detrimental effect on sales. According to ComScore, 42% of US mobile users have smartphones and according to a survey by Simpson Carpenter, just 36% of consumers know what QR codes are for, while 11% have actually used them. The Comscore survey found that 54.7% of the people that scanned QR codes had a household income of $75,000 or more (with 36% over $100k), suggesting that marketers are targeting a wealthier audience. If you are a realtor selling homes in a retirement community, plastering a huge QR code on a house for sale sign is likely not worth the effort. However, if you’re marketing a condo in tech-savvy Silicon Valley, using a QR code on the house for sale sign may be a good strategy. It is best to use QR codes where they should work. If you run a healthcare practice in an inner city, QR codes probably aren’t a great idea.  

5. Make it a Natural Extension of Your Marketing- Just putting a QR code anywhere or making it huge will seem obnoxious – instead, make it look natural by incorporating it into the design of your packaging or advertising or keep it small and use it at the end of your final sentence, as this is a natural place for consumers to want to go on to seek more information about your product or brand.

6. QR Codes Need to be Accessible to as Many People as Possible- Your QR code should link to a mobile-optimized website, as opposed to a standard desktop site. Sending customers to a site that doesn't display well on a smartphone isn't going to show your brand in a positive light. Also keep in mind, some QR codes cannot be scanned by older smartphones or by phones with poor quality cameras. Try to make your QR codes accessible by making them easy to scan by as many different smartphones and applications as possible. To use a QR code, an individual needs a smartphone or tablet (whether iOS or Android) and a corresponding QR code reading app installed on it.

7. Use QR Codes that Direct-Dial- If you want to encourage people to phone you, encode the QR code so that scanning it will automatically dial your phone number. Did your dentist mail you a reminder to make an appointment for your 6 month checkup with a QR code that could be scanned to dial the dental office? QR codes that direct-dial provide a superb call to action and offer an easy way to connect consumers directly to your customer support or helpline.

8. Make it Interesting- Older QR codes were only available in a black and white checkered design, but with newer QR codes you can experiment with colors, styles and even by adding your own logo – just make sure that your codes stand out enough from your branding so that the consumer spots them.

9. Experiment with QR Codes- Remember not to overwhelm your audience with content that is too rich, but don’t overwhelm them with dull content. Maps and signage are excellent QR code vehicles, especially in shopping centers, theme parks, or large complexes. You can even use QR codes for treasure hunts. How-to content is always popular, such as videos, step-by-step guides and online manuals – this type of QR content works especially well in do-it-yourself stores and department stores.

10. Use QR Codes Where People Are Likely to Have Time on their Hands- Does the freeway in your city normally bottleneck around the same place every weekday? If so, a QR code on a billboard at that chokepoint might be an excellent investment. A QR code on a bus stop might also help you get attention. A QR code on literature about your services would be an excellent idea for a dental practice waiting room.

Stay tuned to hear about an exciting service of ours offering the unique advantage of data consistency in QR code campaigns. We’ll be able to seamlessly integrate QR codes into cross-channel marketing campaigns that drive profits and will be able to provide tracking by marketing channel and action. 

Once you have mastered the marketing potential of QR codes, perhaps you will be ready to enter a new dimension with Augmented Reality Codes. Imagine you are a middle tier college and you could enable high school seniors considering attending your school to hold an Augmented Reality enabled iPhone up to something in real life they just came across such as the cover of your 2012 college catalog and they could get an overlay of data on the school, testimonials from recent grads of their college who landed lucrative positions in a challenging economy thanks to their top notch education, or they could actually be led to a webpage where they apply to the college. This may sound like science fiction, but it is actually reality in today’s world with a little creativity and forward thinking marketing.  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

If I knew then what I know now in cross-channel marketing

I’d like to introduce myself.  I am Mark Gottlieb, marketing director of COF/ Control-o-fax, a Waterloo, Iowa based business specializing in printing, marketing, and office supplies.  I never thought of Iowa as a place for cutting edge marketing until I joined COF…boy was I wrong!  
In the beginning of my career, when I wanted to market to customers/prospects, I would use my housefile of customers and prospects and would rent outside lists for snail mailings.  The creative pieces often incorporated limited personalization.  As time went on, personalization capabilities became more sophisticated, and beginning in the 1990s, e-mail started to gain traction in marketing campaigns.  I will never forget the day when all the pieces in terms of the list, creative, and offer fell into place on a large campaign that I had to convince my employer to send and it had a huge ROI with a 2% purchase rate.  If I knew then what I know now about cross-channel marketing, perhaps I could have had a 6% purchase rate with a small incremental increase in the campaign cost! 

Cross Media Marketing Made Easy to Maximize ROI
This leads me to tell you about a new cross-media, variable data one-to-one marketing service COF now has which provides solutions to help businesses create and manage highly-effective direct marketing and cross-media campaigns.  It utilizes software that allows businesses to uniquely leverage customer information to achieve dramatic returns on their marketing investments.  This service consists of a powerful cross-media marketing solution spanning print, web, e-mail and mobile communications, web-to-print software for e-commerce-enabled storefronts and marketing analytics for the tracking, analysis and refinement of live campaigns.

Today’s preferred channels for communication have created new consumer behaviors. Effective marketers are using print and new media to effectively reach their customers with targeted, one-to-one communications. Offering cross media communications allows you to expand your business and capitalize on this growing market.  Implementing cross-media campaigns allows you to reach consumers across print and digital media channels with consistent messages that are most relevant to each individual recipient -- in content, presentation, timeliness and channel.  Our new cross-channel marketing service allows you to create campaigns that are state-of-the-art for each media channel – in design, content, interactivity and data-integrity – guaranteeing highly-consistent messaging and branding across all channels in the media mix.

Image Personalization Stands Out and Drives More Sales

I remember how much of a lift in purchase rates I received when I started using personalization in my direct mail and e-mail campaigns.  I would have loved to have been able to add image personalization in my email marketing but was never able to do so.  Now we can enable our customers to create personalized images with ease utilizing Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator.  We make it simple to have variable text and/or graphics change per recipient, and have each unique image seamlessly integrate into an InDesign layout in the print stream.  The fascinating combination of personalized images with digital printing consistently evokes an emotional reaction from the targeted audience. It is now easy to create and offer unique and memorable personalized materials.  Imagine you are a college fundraiser who could now add yearbook college photos and a photo of your college when your alumni attended and today to your direct mail or on a personalized url to each recipient.

The best part about being at COF besides the friendly, knowledgeable staff is the ability to offer variable printing along with the services shown above.  I keep thinking what can we do to top this, and at COF, I’m sure we will. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

ICD-10 Overview and Timeline

ICD-10 Overview

The International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, 10th Revision (known as "ICD-10") is a medical classification list for the coding of diseases, signs and symptoms, abnormal findings, complaints, social circumstances, and external causes of injury or diseases, as maintained by the World Health Organization (WHO). The WHO provides detailed information about ICD online, and makes available a set of materials online, such as an ICD-10 online browser, ICD-10 online training, ICD-10 online training support, and study guide materials for download. Visit ICD-10 Training and ICD-10 Classifications.

Work on ICD-10 began in 1983 and was completed in 1992.
The ICD-10 consists of:
  • Tabular lists containing cause-of-death titles and codes (Volume 1)
  • Inclusion and exclusion terms for cause-of-death titles (Volume 1)
  • An alphabetical index to diseases and nature of injury, external causes of injury, table of drugs and chemicals (Volume 3)
  • Descriptions, guidelines, and coding resources (Volume 2)
Whereas predecessor ICD-9-CM contains more than 17,000 codes, ICD-10 contains more than 141,000 codes and accommodates a host of new diagnoses and procedures.

HHS proposes one-year delay of ICD-10 compliance date

On April 17, 2012 the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a proposed rule that would delay, from October 1, 2013 to October 1, 2014, the compliance date for the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Edition diagnosis and procedure codes (ICD-10). Only a handful of countries, including the United States and Italy, have not adopted ICD-10 as their standard for reporting.

The ICD-10 compliance date change is part of a proposed rule that would adopt a standard for a unique health plan identifier (HPID), adopt a data element that would serve as an “other entity” identifier (OEID), and add a National Provider Identifier (NPI) requirement. The proposed rule was developed by the Office of E-Health Standards and Services (OESS) as part of its ongoing role, delegated by HHS, to establish standards for electronic health care transactions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). OESS is part of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

HHS proposes that covered entities must be in compliance with ICD-10 on October 1, 2014.

View the
proposed rule. Comments are due May 17, 2012.

More information on the proposed rule is available on fact sheets.

ICD-10 and Version 5010 Implementation Timelines

Printer-friendly versions of the Version 5010 and ICD-10 widget implementation timelines are available for
large providers, small providers, payers, and vendors
To stay informed about the latest Version 5010 and ICD-10 happenings, sign up for the "CMS ICD-10 Industry Email Updates."