Medical Coding History – The Past, Present and Future

The topic of health care is quite hot these days. Everywhere people are talking about the changes that are happening in the Health Care Industry and how much it has affected their lives. One of the most talked about aspects is how medical billing has changed so dramatically over the years. Medical billing, when done correctly is fine, however, when done incorrectly, the mistakes can take years to clear up. Medical Coding is the most important aspect of the billing process. Insurance companies especially rely on proper coding to pay the provider. But where did these codes come from? Medical Coding History goes back centuries, so maybe by understanding where it all came from, we can understand where it may be heading.

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The official coding of diseases began around the 17th century in England. Known as the London Bills of Mortality, certain data of diseases and ailments were collected and arranged into numerical codes. The numeric codes were then used to measure the most frequent causes of death. The problem was the bills were not consistent with their terminology. It wasn’t until the late 1830’s when Dr. William Farr, a British Epidemiologist, went before the newly formed International Statistical Congress and proposed a uniform classification system. By the 1930’s this system evolved into the International List of Causes of Death.

As the medical industry grew through the years, the World Health Organization began using the list to aid in mortality rate tracking and international disease epidemics and overall trends. The list was expanded further and renamed as the International Classification of Diseases (ICD). In 1977, ICD codes were developed further to include clinical diagnoses such as illnesses and injuries, not just causes of death. By expanding the codes to include more diagnosis classifications, medical records became more comprehensive and this gave doctors the opportunity to provide extensive and overall better health care.

The future is getting brighter for the field of medical coding with the use of  electronic medical records. Technological advances are making it easier and faster for medical providers to access a patient’s history so they can treat illnesses at an earlier stage and extend the life of the patient. ICD codes are now entering their 10th revision, known as ICD-10. These new codes will include more detailed information so the accuracy rate of medical billing will increase and become more cost effective for the provider as well as insurance companies and third-party billing companies. PDN, based in Chicago, has taken medical coding to a whole new level by building an actual medical coding lab. These labs offer medical organizations across the country access to highly trained professional coders that ensure all billing is done accurately and efficiently so payments are processed in a timelier manner. ICD-10 is extremely complex and providers are finding it more cost effective to outsource this aspect of their practice to the medical coding companies. The medical field is becoming more reliant on technology. Medical records are now accessed over the internet, even on a doctor’s cell phone! Medical billing and coding guidelines will continue to change with the times, but one thing that will never change is the confidentiality and preservation of a patients’ medical record.

A new era is upon us in the medical profession. Medical Coding History is now the future, and it is looking very bright indeed.