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CAC: Coder's Friend or Foe?

Computer Assisted Coding (CAC) employs natural language processing (NLP) and other software necessary to analyze the content of a patient's medical record and identifies data that can be converted to codes for reimbursement. Is there a threat that medical coder’s could be replaced by computerization?

Video may have killed the radio star, as the song goes, but the encoder did not displace the coder. The encoder helped the coder be more efficient. Encoders still aren’t perfected and have been around a lot longer than CAC. Robotics in surgery are great, however, they require a qualified surgeon and operating room staff. NLP and artificial intelligence (AI) are still being perfected, as evidenced by IBM’s computer “Watson” that occasionally gave erroneous responses on Jeopardy.

Harold Gibson writes that “Documentation, even the documentation included in (electronic health record) EHR, starts with a human touch. It is dictated or entered by healthcare providers and their staff. When the documentation is assembled into a healthcare claim, it ends with a human touch as professional medical coders compare the data in the claim to the data in the record.” (Gibson, 2012) Gibson describes a Coding Analyst, a certified professional in Health Information Management examining the results of CAC and making any necessary adjustments attributed to staying up on medical, coding and financial changes while avoiding fraud and abuse. 

Much like an encoder, CAC is a tool for the coder’s cache. Let’s welcome CAC as a friend.

 

 

Downes, G., Horn, T.,& Woolley, B. (1979). Video killed the radio star. On The age of plastic [Album].

            London, England: Island Records.  Retrieved from: http://tinyurl.com/of7z5pm

Gibson, H. (2012). CAC: A coder prospective. Retrieved from: http://tinyurl.com/o9y96bq