Ehealth and Coding Systems
Ehealth may be defined as the application of information technology to improve healthcare. Information technology imposes the need for a system of numeric codes to identify entities such as diseases. Such a system of classification, often termed as a ‘taxonomy’, can improve data exchange and reliability of communication between users such as hospitals. A taxonomy can also be used in medical research to identify patients with a certain disease.The World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases Tenth Revision (ICD-10) is the leading taxonomy of diseases. Unfortunately, the complexity of ICD-10 poses major challenges. These challenges include potential information loss of about 5% of billing costs due to incorrect coding. Web-based mapping software can mitigate some of clinical data loss, along with additional training of healthcare staff. An example of problems associated with ICD-10 is the classification of allergic disorders, whichhave been considered as inappropriate for clinical practice by some experts. This can result in misclassification of terms within the hierarchy. Furthermore, using general equivalence mapping leads to inconsistencies as revealed by studies using manual coding by professional coders to assess for accuracy and reliability. We present the implications of coding systems in eHealth for research and quality improvement,using ICD-10 as a case study.
Word count: 206 words.
Keywords- eHealth, healthcare, informatics, coding