5 pluses of standardized coding
September 24, 2013 in Medical Technology
Billions of tax dollars are being invested in the healthcare sector in the name of getting providers moved from paper to electronic records. But while updating hardware and implementing software programs are perhaps the most visible elements of the digital transition, an equally important shift is happening more or less behind the scenes in the world of coding.
That ongoing and unseen project revolves around the development and implementation of code standardization programs that increasingly ensure that a doctor’s entry in one EHR will make sense to providers, researchers and policymakers regardless of where and how they access it.
As Brian Levy, MD, senior vice president and CMO of Health Language, a coding software provider, recently explained, the basic mission of code standardization programs “is to ensure that the clinician doesn’t have to worry about code selection.”
[See also: AHIMA calls for coding guidelines.]
Codes, of course, such as the ICD series, have been around for decades, but Levy said efforts to ensure standardization essentially took off with the introduction of the HITECH Act.
“Even doctors who’ve been using some form of electronic health records have been recording things with words,” he said, and those words often meant different things depending on the doctor or organization.
Now, however, that’s changing rapidly, and Levy sees a number of benefits resulting from the coding standardization that is rapidly spreading across the healthcare sector: