You hear a loud pop in your left arm, followed by intense pain. You visit the doctor and sure enough, it's broken. As the doctor examines you, he or she will most likely be sitting at a computer during your visit typing notes, or writing down on a clipboard documenting what has happened to your arm. Once the visit is over, the doctor needs to get paid by the insurance company. This is where medical coding comes in. The doctor cannot simply send over the notes from your encounter. The insurance company requires a medical code. A medical code in this situation would look something like this:
There could be a handful of similar codes that help document the visit to your doctor.
Therefore, medical coding is the translation of medical reports into a short code used within the healthcare industry. This helps summarize otherwise cumbersome medical reports into efficient, data-friendly codes. While complex and detail-driven, coding really comes down to knowing how to navigate the three main code sets: CPT, ICD, and HCPCS. These code sets help coders document the condition of a patient and describe the medical procedure performed on that patient in response to their condition.