Clinical coding plays a crucial role in patient care and here Lisa Hanson explains all about her role
As a clinical coding specialist, you have the challenge of extracting often complex information about a patient’s stay in hospital, from various different sources (and a variety of often difficult to decipher handwriting!) and creating a summary.
You’re basically telling the story of someone’s stay in hospital and translating everything that’s relevant into a coded format. There are lots of coding rules and we strictly adhere to national standards and local policies.
This information is responsible for lots of things including generating Trust income, clinical audit, consultant appraisal/revalidation, clinical governance, performance management and data quality.
The training for the job usually takes about three years before then sitting the ACC (Accredited Clinical Coder) examination. Then the learning and development is always ongoing and every day’s a school day.
I’ve been doing the job since 2008 and I chose clinical coding as it just sounded very interesting. It’s a very different kind of job and every patient’s story is different. It can be quite intense with lots of challenges and learning as there are so many medical conditions and procedures across all kinds of specialities.
Since the start of the pandemic, the day-to-day has changed significantly with the social distancing set-up within the office meaning that several members of staff had to be moved out to other sites and some staff working from home. Each office has a really good team though who are very supportive with an excellent work ethic, so it’s quite easy to fit in across the sites.
The hardest thing has been coding the patients with Covid, especially those that have died. Our job means we need read though absolutely everything that’s documented during a patient’s stay and this has been particularly difficult as we’re all affected by this virus.
It’s been really heart-breaking at times. Sad stories with sad endings. However, when patients have recovered, that’s a happy ending to their story.
As a team we have all pulled together to support each other with all the highs and lows of the last year, especially in the beginning with all the uncertainty. And we’ve done our best to maintain a good working atmosphere, making coming to work fun.