The Power of Collaboration: Improving Clinical Coding with Student Doctors

Do you remember the last time you played a team game? It’s not about one player outshining the others; it’s about how everyone comes together to win. Well, the world of healthcare isn’t too different. Collaboration often makes the difference between good and great outcomes. A recent study revealed an innovative way to enhance clinical coding and hospital revenue, and it all comes down to teamwork – between student doctors and clinical coders.

A Team Approach to Healthcare: The Need for Collaboration in Clinical Coding

In the UK, hospitals are paid for their services via a system called ‘Payment-by-Results’. Think of it as a productivity reward system. However, clinical coding, a crucial aspect of this system, often falls prey to errors, leading to reduced departmental revenue. Given that clinical coding is all about translating medical terms into standard codes, it’s safe to say we need accuracy here more than ever.

A team led by Suha Abdulla, Natalie Simon, and their colleagues took up the challenge to increase the median number of diagnostic codes for sickle cell inpatient admissions at Guy’s Hospital by three. Sounds ambitious, right? But wait till you hear how they did it!

The Game Plan: Introducing Three Innovative Interventions

The team executed three interventions using the Plan, Do, Study, Act structure. The first involved student doctors hunting for missed diagnoses and comorbidities in clinical coding. Secondly, they distributed laminated cards displaying common clinical codes, helping to ensure coders and clinicians had easy access to the correct codes. Lastly, they implemented discharge proformas, aiding the standardization of information given when patients leave the hospital.

Scoring Goals: Impressive Results from the Collaborative Efforts

Over 16 weeks, the student doctors generated a whopping £58,813, through auditing. The median number of codes increased by at least two additional codes, exceeding the initial aim of the project. Furthermore, they spotted errors in an average of 32.5% of admissions each month, significantly improving the quality of patient documentation.

But, the cherry on top? This study became the first to report the efficacy of student-coder collaboration in improving the accuracy of clinical coding.

Wrapping Up: The Power of Teamwork in Healthcare

This fascinating study highlights the untapped potential of harnessing the minds of student doctors to improve clinical coding. It shows how collaboration between different parties can unlock innovative solutions, leading to improved patient care and hospital revenues.

So, in the game of healthcare, this winning strategy demonstrates that collaboration is indeed the secret to scoring goals. After all, together, we achieve more!

Abdulla S, Simon N, Woodhams K, Hayman C, Oumar M, Howroyd LR, Sethi GC. Improving the quality of clinical coding and payments through student doctor-coder collaboration in a tertiary haematology department. BMJ Open Qual. 2020 Mar;9(1):e000723. doi: 10.1136/bmjoq-2019-000723. PMID: 32198235; PMCID: PMC7103790.

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