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Clinical coding

In 2001 Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust began a project to introduce International Classification of Disease version 10 to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.

In 2001 Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust began a project to introduce International Classification of Disease version 10 to Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre.

This would allow KCMC to report statistics such as HIV and aids prevalence to the World Health Organisation (WHO) and would make them the first hospital in Tanzania to do so.

With years of training and management experience on her side, clinical coder Linda Gibbs travelled to Tanzania to provide teaching and training to the staff of KCMC. Working with teams from medical records and clinical coding, Linda taught them how to use the international classification of diseases as well as some basic anatomy, physiology and medical terminology.

Over the next few years, Linda visited KCMC another three times to provide further training. This enabled the coders to develop the key skills needed to teach others across Tanzania.  Now coders who were trained in the early years are Head of Department for Clinical Coding at a number of hospitals across Tanzania.

Aside from providing data to the WHO, introducing ICDD10 helped KCMC improve their outdated classification system. Now each diagnosis and procedure is provided with a universally recognised statistical code.

This has a financial benefit as codes can be assigned to all inpatient and outpatient attendances, so that a cost can be attached to each activity in the hospital, ensuring that it is funded correctly. As such by using the classification, the hospital can earn extra income- for example billing foreign visitors suffering from altitude sickness from climbing Mt Kilimanjaro.

Why clinical coding?

Clinical coding is crucial for clinical governance, commissioning, cost analysis, clinical audit, payment by results and for the World Health Organisation to capture information about disease globally.

The data has to be accurate so that trends such as deaths from various diseases can be closely monitored.

Linda’s experience

“It changed my life and was a wonderful experience. We had to overcome the shortages, or even absence, of facilities and equipment which we take for granted here; but there is cutting edge technology too… Our multidisciplinary group benefitted from a wider knowledge and different perspective on healthcare. We had to support each other through triumphs and tragedies”

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