A Coding Take on World Health Day, April 7

World Health Day 2018

The World Health Organization (WHO) uses World Health Day each April to draw attention to global health concerns. Here’s a quick history of recent World Health Day themes with a coding twist.

2018: The theme this year is “Health for All,” with discussion of paths to universal health coverage (UHC) around the world. It is a big topic that deserves more than a few sentences, but one potentially overlooked area of note is WHO’s statement that “UHC is not only about medical treatment for individuals, but also includes services for whole populations such as public health campaigns,” like “controlling the breeding grounds of mosquitoes that carry viruses.” From a coding perspective, this public health comment reminded me of an article from back when swine flu was a hot topic. Public health labs were performing a fee-exempt confirmatory test issued by the CDC, which meant that labs had to stay on top of whether the tests they performed were billable or not. This event highlighted one of the important roles coders have to play in the realm of public health.

2017: “Depression: Let’s Talk” was the theme in 2017, encouraging the hundreds of millions of people suffering from depression to seek help and providing information about the need for support. If you code for a primary care provider, you may see that the provider often spends more than half of a session in counseling when mental health is involved. To ensure accurate coding, you need to understand the rules for coding E/M based on time. From a diagnosis coding perspective, ICD-10-CM includes codes for various depression and other mood disorders in F30-F39. You also may find adding Z codes helpful in supporting the service.

2016: The theme for 2016 was “Beat Diabetes,” focusing on both prevention and treatment. ICD-10-CM coding for diabetes has seen updates in recent years, both to provide similar code options for the various types and because new trends are emerging as diabetes becomes more commonly diagnosed. For instance, studies suggest the number of type 2 patients presenting with diabetic ketoacidosis is on the rise. And ICD-10-CM recently added E11.10 (Type 2 diabetes mellitus with ketoacidosis without coma) and E11.11 (Type 2 diabetes mellitus with ketoacidosis with coma) to simplify coding for these diagnoses.

What About You?

What would you suggest as a theme for a future World Health Day?


Deborah works on a wide range of TCI SuperCoder projects, researching and writing about coding, as well as assisting with data updates and tool development for our online coding solutions. Since joining TCI in 2004, she’s covered the ins and outs of coding for radiology, cardiology, oncology and hematology, orthopedics, audiology, and more.

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