6 Essential Skills you need to be a good Clinical Coder

You know, when we talk about clinical coding, we’re talking about an exciting, ever-changing field that calls for a very particular set of skills. Picture this: you’re playing a vital role in the healthcare system, you’re keeping up with the times, and you’re swimming in a sea of data. That’s the life of a clinical coder.

Attention to Detail

You’re probably asking, what does it take to dive into this world? Well, the first thing you need to know is that clinical coders are like detectives with a magnifying glass. They must have an eagle-eye for detail. It’s all about pinpoint accuracy – correctly assigning codes to medical diagnoses and procedures. Something as simple as missing a fifth character code or getting dagger (+) and asterisk (*) codes in the wrong sequence could throw everything off. That’s why, especially for newcomers, mastering this skill is so crucial.


Effective communication is the foundation of successful interdisciplinary collaboration. Coders routinely engage with various stakeholders, including colleagues, members of the multidisciplinary team, and consultants. They need to be active listeners, capable of retaining information, asking pertinent questions to better understand complex procedures or diagnoses, and confidently asserting their knowledge and expertise to various trust staff.

Resilience in the Face of Evolving Challenges

But let’s not sugarcoat it – clinical coding can be tough. It’s not just about going through complex case notes and medical processes. It’s about managing relationships, staying current with constantly changing national clinical coding standards and guidelines, and being ready to roll with the punches. Resilience? You’ll need it by the bucketload.

Technological Adaptability

Tech savvy is another feather in a clinical coder’s cap. Given the range of tech platforms and clinical systems you’ll be using, you must adapt quickly. If you can navigate NHS digital Eviewer, online versions of ICD-10 and OPCS Reference manuals, Microsoft Teams, and e-learning platforms like Clinical Coding Hub with ease, you’re golden.

Ability to Work Independently

Now, while it may seem like a team sport, clinical coding also demands independence. Yes, you’ll be part of a department, but each coder stands alone in their coding responsibilities. This means you’ll need to take the reins of your own projects, especially with the uptick in remote work. Working independently and multitasking are your tickets to a flexible and successful career.

Facilitator Soft Skills

Lastly, let’s talk about something a bit abstract – facilitator soft skills. As a clinical coder, you’ll need to take clinicians on a journey from data denial (‘This is not our data’) to acceptance (‘This could be our data’). It’s an important step in understanding why coding data might not always meet expectations, and it’s crucial for the ongoing evolution of the coder’s role

So there you have it, the recipe for a successful clinical coder: attention to detail, communication, resilience, technological adaptability, independence, and facilitator soft skills. As the world of clinical coding continues to evolve, these skills will remain as important as ever. But remember, the learning never stops. Stay curious, keep growing, and you’ll find yourself in a dynamic, rewarding career.

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