Important Coding Book Characteristics

Coding book choices can be overwhelming and confusing. To aid in selecting a book that meets your needs, consider the following:

Current Code Set

Every year codes are revised and deleted, and new codes are released. Correct coding is imperative to avoiding costly coding errors. Incorrect code assignment may cause under- and over-coding, fraudulent claims and even legal issues.  Accurate and appropriate coding leads to an economically healthy organization and physician practice. To code effectively and efficiently throughout the year, you’ll need a current set of coding books.

User-Friendly Features

Books that are user-friendly will have a certain format and structure. Color margins, tab-dividers and spiral-binding are all features that can make coding books easier to use.

Large and Colorful Illustrations

Illustrations are very important and should be a valuable source of information — not just an image. Color illustrations are ideal for providing an in-depth understanding of anatomy and facilitating the selection of the appropriate code. Illustrations should also be appropriately sized; the larger the better, to show as many details as possible.

Official Guidelines

The official guidelines are additional instructions that must be used to code correctly. They allow the coder to achieve accurate coding and correctly interpret and report medical services. Beginners usually prefer to have the guidelines located in the introduction part of the book, combined in one place. This makes it easier to refer to them during intense classroom courses. 

Experienced coders value the inside/code-level availability of the guidelines. Ideally, it’s convenient to have the guidelines in both places, in the introduction section and throughout the book with the codes they reference, to assist both new and experienced coders.

Value-Added Notations and Conventions

Additional features to consider include flags, notes, indicators and symbols—all features that can make coding easier. These features indicate whether any special rules need to be applied when using the code or identify any special considerations. They can also indicate which codes were deleted or changed. You can also find gender and sex edits, PQRI measure flags and payment indicators among them. Tables and crosswalks are also helpful to quickly select codes.

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