Clinical Coding explained for non clinical coders!
Clinical Coding For Non-Coders
In recent weeks here at GSA we have had a number of new starters in our permanent IT sales team. As tradition states, on their first day our senior managers show them around our offices and introduce the existing teams to them. We are always asked to give a brief overview of what we do, and what markets we work in. Cue the blank faces when Tom and I explain that we specialise in placing Clinical Coders and Clinical Coding staff into NHS trusts across the UK. A feeling I am sure that Clinical Coders across the country are used to when they introduce themselves to someone new and the “so what do you do for a living” question comes up!
This got me thinking. How do we explain what a Clinical Coder does to a Non-Coder?
Clinical Coders are a bit like NHS detectives. Following your treatment (whether that be in an NHS Hospital, Walk In Centre or Mental Health Trust) your patient notes – the ones that the medical professionals have written all over - are sent to or collected by the Clinical Coding team. Here, the Clinical Coders look at the treatment you have received and why you have received it. They use their Clinical Coding bibles (OPCS & ICD 10) to convert your diagnosis and procedures into codes that are then entered onto a computer system. These codes equate to a financial figure, and the NHS trust uses this coded information to work out how much your treatment or consultation has cost.
The fun thing to remember here is that, most of the time (but not always!) medical professional's handwriting can be described as a scribble. Clinical Coders have to understand the language that Doctors and Clinicians use, they have to understand the human body, the procedures and the treatments that patients receive. They have to liaise with senior doctors across the hospitals from Children's Wards to Trauma Wards, to Mental Health Units, to specialist Cancer Wards. They then have to ensure what they have coded is accurate and correct so that the hospital received the right amount of money for the treatment that has been given – not to mention working to extremely tight deadlines.
Talk about stressful hey? Add into that the consent changes to procedures, the changes in patient lifestyle (how do you code a fall from a Hoverboard when they didn’t even exist last year? How do you code the misuse of Legal Highs that didn’t exist last month?) constant studying, workshops and refresher courses to keep up to date AND having to pass some REALLY hard exams to become officially certified!
We can explain Clinical Coding in simple terms, but it really is far from simple – its significance and impact across the NHS is invaluable.
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To discuss clinical coding, as a client or contractor, please contact Tom Blakey or Sophie Ward