7 Questions ID the Online Medical Code Search That’s Best for You

Fri, May 5, 2017 --

Reader Questions

When I first entered the coding world, printed coding manuals were the home of medical codes. Fast forward to today, and there are a lot of options if you prefer to find a code online instead. Here are some ideas on what to look for when choosing an online code search (don’t miss #6).

1. Does It Have the Code Sets You Need?

Let’s start with the obvious. Useful medical coding software (sometimes called encoder software for medical coding) will combine all the code sets you need.

For instance (shameless plug alert!) SuperCoder Code Search lets you search CPT®, HCPCS, ICD-10-CM, and ICD-9-CM. But if you want access to code sets used exclusively by outpatient or inpatient facilities, one of SuperCoder’s facility coding solutions would be a better fit for you.

2. Can You Search Terms That Makes Sense to You?

To get to the right code fast, a robust search engine is a must. Will the search box get you where you want to go if you enter a code, code range, keyword, string of keywords, or abbreviations?

3. Can You Narrow and Sort the Search Results?

A long list of results can slow you down. Check for the options your medical encoder offers for narrowing search results. For example, you may be able to limit the source of your results to index entries, index tables, specific code sets, or the online code search provider’s own search database.

When you’re searching a term that has a lot of results, being able to sort the results is also helpful. Ask if you can sort by code order and by relevance to the search terms.

4. Does It Provide Extras to Improve Accuracy?

Bare bones code search tools have their place, but they don’t do a lot to help ensure you’ve got the right code. Make sure your online code search is up to whatever job you need it to do.

For instance, having official code descriptors is essential, but you won’t be able to understand proper use of the codes if you don’t have the official guidelines, too. Sometimes even that isn’t enough, so look at whether the resource provides lay terms to help you match what you see in provider documentation to the correct code. Illustrations are another feature that can help you get a better understanding of the procedure the code describes.

5. Can You Create Personal and Group Notes?

Confirm that you can save a personal note with a code. If you’ll have more than one user, ask if you can share notes so it’s easier for the team to follow tips and internal rules consistently.

6. Can You Trust the Accuracy of the Results?

Details matter in coding. Every digit must be correct. And don’t get me started on the trouble the addition of “(s)” to a code descriptor can cause. Get your online code search from a company you can rely on to have all the particulars in place. Ask how and when updates occur. And choose a company that you know will be responsive to feedback, including suggestions for improvements.

7. What Else Should I Know About This Code Search?

Can you get CEUs with your subscription? Can you see both code details and range pages, and select the type of page you want to see as default? Ask what makes the online code search tool you’re considering unique.

What About You?

How would you describe your ideal medical billing and coding software?



Deborah concentrates on coding and compliance for radiology and cardiology, including the tricky world of interventional procedures, as well as oncology and hematology. Since joining The Coding Institute in 2004, she’s also covered the ins and outs of coding for orthopedics, audiology, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and more.

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