What is Medical Coding?

For those who are new to the medical billing and medical coding field, a great question to begin with is; “What is Medical Coding?” Starting with what Medical Coding encompasses is helpful. Medical Coding covers several aspects including medical procedures and services, certain diagnoses, and can also relate to medical equipment.  It is the process whereby medical record documentation is translated in to five digit procedure or supply codes and three to seven character diagnosis codes.  Medical coding is a form of communication between insurance companies and other healthcare professionals.

Another way to answer this question is to think of Medical Coding as a translation. For example: you go to the doctor because you fractured your kneecap. Well, what the doctor (or medical coder) sends off to the insurance company is as follows: S82.001A, Initial encounter for closed fracture of patella. In this case, S82.001A is the proper medical code. There are specific medical codes to identify the  medical encounter, diagnosis and/or procedure.

The codes assigned are standard codes from the CPT®  (Current Procedural Terminology), ICD-10-CM
(International Classification of Diseases) and the HCPCS (Healthcare Common Procedure Coding System) manuals. Codes are updated on a quarterly, however coding manuals are only published annually. Medical Coders are hired to ensure proper code assignment and sequencing to identify services rendered and supplies provided to the patient.  Reimbursement is just one factor in the medical coding process.

Some have described medical coding like completing a puzzle.  If medical coding sounds like the career for you, MCHC offers online and live classes to teach you everything you need to know to become a certified medical coder!