Medical coding takes information about diagnoses, treatments, procedures, medications and equipment and translates them into alphanumeric codes. This information comes from a range of sources, including transcriptions, medical notes, electronic records, lab results including blood work, urinalysis and pathology and radiologic assessments.
Medical coding professionals transfer these codes from the sources to medical billing systems and patient records. Coding is an important step required to submit medical claims with insurers and bills for insurers and patients.
Coding is critical as it can indirectly affect medical care, particularly as it relates to insurance reimbursements. In today’s fee-for-service medical environment, physicians are increasingly required to list underlying conditions, untreated diagnoses, and preconditions. Having the proper medical coding ensures that insurers have all the diagnostic codes required for appropriate payment.
Coding is also critical for demographic assessments and studies of disease prevalence, treatment outcomes and accountability-based reimbursement systems.