If you’ve been treated by a hospital, physician’s office or medical center, chances are you’re familiar with the concept of medical billing and coding. But exactly what is medical coding and what does a professional in this field do?
To start, medical coding is the practice that transforms healthcare diagnoses, procedures, services and equipment into universal alphanumeric codes for medical billing purposes. Medical coders analyze information about diagnoses and procedures within medical records and other documentation – such as physician's notes, laboratory and radiologic results – then assign the appropriate codes and create a claim for submission to insurance carriers.
Medical coding also supports the operation of the healthcare system. Practitioners and facilities rely on the documentation of what's diagnosed, treated and learned about a patient's condition in order to streamline their processes and ultimately generate revenue. Proper documentation of patient diagnoses, testing and treatment allows healthcare providers to be reimbursed quickly and sustain a healthy cash flow.
Medical coding also helps practitioners quickly understand a patient's conditions and treatments during subsequent visits. This helps providers achieve better patient outcomes, especially in large medical practices or hospitals that serve large patient populations.