Clinician-directed improvement in the accuracy of hospital clinical coding

Future Healthc J. 2018 Feb;5(1):47-51. doi: 10.7861/futurehosp.5-1-47.


'Payment by results' (PbR) remuneration for healthcare services relies on the accurate conversion of diagnoses into Healthcare Resource Group (HRG) codes that are then reimbursed. Inconsistencies in documentation can result in inaccuracies in this process, with consequent implications for measuring activity, disease incidence and organisational performance. The aim of this study was to determine if clinician involvement increases accuracy in the coding of medical cases. Selected records of medical patients admitted to a London NHS trust between November and December 2016 were reviewed by a coding auditor and a clinician. Any changes to the codes and HRG tariff were noted. In total, 123 cases were considered. Changes in code were made on 68 instances, resulting in an overall increase in remuneration of £39,215; an average of £318 per patient. The primary HRG code was changed in 31 cases which accounted for £28,040 of the increase in tariff. In conclusion, clinician involvement can help with documentation ambiguities, thus improving the accuracy of the coding process in a medical setting. Although such collaborative working offers advantages for both the clinician and the coding team, further work is required to investigate the feasibility of this recommendation on a larger scale.

Keywords: PROCESSES AND SYSTEMS; Payment by results; clinical coding.