5 Ways Medical Terminology is Used By Coding Professionals

man coding on desktop computer

If you are a medical coder, medical terminology plays an integral role in every code you enter. It is the language of medicine that all medical professionals must learn, and for a medical coder, it is vital to know. Avidity Medical Design Academy offers a course in medical terminology to help you grow in your medical coding career. In the meantime, here are five ways that medical terminology will make your job easier if you are thinking about pursuing a career in medical coding, or if you are already a medical coder, and you want to continue to learn new medical terms related to a particular medical specialty, to improve the accuracy of your coding.

Reading the Medical Record Will Become More Natural

If you’re new the medical field, terms like “hepatomegaly,” “myalgia,” and “stenosis” will probably leave you scratching your head. As a medical coder, these terms should become more familiar to you, especially if you work in a doctor’s office, clinic, hospital, or ambulatory surgery center. If you code for a particular medical specialty, such as dermatology (the study of the skin) for example, you will see certain terms over and over again that pertain to dermatology, and it will become easier for you to recognize them. But other words you will not see very often and you might have to look them up. By learning medical terminology, you spend less time looking up words and more time entering codes.

Medical Terminology Helps You Find the Right Codes

Accurate coding is critical. An incorrect code becomes a permanent part of the patient’s record, it can affect patient care, and delay physician reimbursement because the patient’s claim may be rejected due to an incorrect code. It also means that you or someone else will have to go back in and correct the mistake. Coding can be challenging, especially for someone new to the field. Knowing medical terminology goes a long way towards cutting through the confusion. 

You’ll Be Able to Speak Intelligently to Other Medical Professionals

You are probably going to have to question or query doctors, nurses, lab technicians, and many other healthcare professionals in relation to a code assignment. They are most likely going to be pushed for time, so they may not have time to give you detailed answers to your coding questions. If you are familiar with the medical terminology they are using, you will be able to know exactly what they are saying and will be able to ask intelligent questions. It also helps when you get an email from your supervisor, or the medical biller, or the medical claims examiner, asking why you assigned a particular code. 

Learning Anatomy Will Be Easier

Knowing anatomy is crucial to being a successful medical coder, and in order to understand the terms used to describe the human anatomy, you must understand prefixes, root words, and suffixes, and how they combine to form the complete medical term. There is a reason why many medical terminology classes and anatomy classes are taught together.  If you know that ‘my’ means muscle and ‘-algia’ means pain, then you understand that myalgia means muscle pain. 

You’ll Be More Efficient

No one likes to think that they are not efficient at doing their job. It’s also hard when you get negative feedback. By learning medical terminology, you will be faster and more efficient at your job. The more medical terms you know, the more time you can spend finding and entering codes rather than researching unfamiliar medical terms. Your employers will be impressed, and you’ll have greater confidence in what you can bring to the table as a medical coder.

Learning medical terminology can be intimidating, as there are many terms to master, but it is a part of the job that you will do everyday. It will save you headaches, and improve your ability to accurately code each patient’s medical record. Check out “How to Learn Basic Medical Terminology (in 5 EASY Steps!) and USE IT in EVERYDAY Living!” offered Avidity Medical Design Academy, for more information on how to learn medical terminology.

ICD-10 and What the Ebola Virus Means for Healthcare Reimbursement

Public health officials are learning more every day about the procedures required to care for Ebola patients. But one thing that the Ebola crisis has revealed is that the health care system lacks the classification codes to track the disease and ultimately, to reimburse for care of patients who have the disease.

what the ebola virus means for healthcare reimbursementICD-9 has no specific code for Ebola. Under the classification system, the hemorrhagic fever would currently fall under 078.89 – the code for “other specified diseases due to viruses.” That means Ebola shares a code with many other viruses that have not yet been assigned a specific code. The next iteration of the classification system, ICD-10, gives Ebola the code A98.4. But the U.S. Congress in the spring delayed implementation of the new classification system. The fact that the United States still uses ICD-9 will make it more more difficult to share information about the disease and its movement with other countries, HIT Consultant reported. All of the world’s industrialized nations use ICD-10 and use the codes in the newer system to report health information to the World Health Organization.

Besides disease tracking, health officials are starting to learn what the Ebola virus means for healthcare reimbursement. The classification codes are also important for reimbursing the cost of care. When health claims are submitted to payers, the claim must include a code to indicate a particular disease or procedure. If any more Ebola cases arise in the United States, ICD-9 allows no way for a health care provider to submit a claim specifically for Ebola. Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, had health care costs estimated at $1,000 an hour, Bloomberg News reported. That cost takes into account not only the care provided to Duncan, but also the expense of isolation procedures for an Ebola patient. The Texas hospital is not expected to recover any of the costs associated with the care of Duncan, who was uninsured.

The Texas hospital has offered to pay the health care costs of Nina Pham, one of the nurses who treated Duncan and was later diagnosed with Ebola, while she was in the hospital’s care. Pham was recently declared Ebola free after being treated at the the National Institutes of Health; that bill will likely be picked up by the federal government.

ICD-10 offers a way to submit health care claims for Ebola and also file for reimbursement for treating patients with the disease. But its implementation did not come in time for Ebola’s arrival in the United States. Much is still being learned about the procedures hospitals need to use to care for Ebola patients and it’s unclear whether new codes will be needed. But what is now clear is that the health system has a classification code for Ebola but for now, it has no way to use it. To learn more, contact us.