Coding Success is Built on a Solid Foundation


by Angela Lima, BS, CCS, CDIP, COC, CIC, AAPC-Approved Instructor

Recently I drove by a vacant lot on my street that had been empty for a very long time. When I drove by this time, I noticed something different. There was a foundation poured. I know that this means there will soon be a house there. The foundation isn’t pretty, and it certainly isn’t the first thing someone notices when driving by a beautiful house, but without one the house would not stand for very long. The foundation is there, doing its job, holding the house in its place.

It got me thinking about the foundation coders need to do their job. Our coding careers begin, very much like this house, with a foundation. A coder’s foundation requires a solid understanding of four foundational areas of study: Anatomy and Physiology; Pharmacology; Pathophysiology; and Medical Terminology. Everything you learn as a coder is built on this foundation of knowledge in these four areas.

  • Anatomy and Physiology are often taken together:
    • anatomy is the study of the parts and structures of the human body,
    • physiology is the study of the functions of the human body
  • Medical Terminology is the language used to precisely describe the human body including its components, processes, conditions affecting it, and procedures performed upon it
  • Pharmacology is the study of the uses, effects, and modes of action of drugs
  • Pathophysiology is the study of the disordered physiological processes associated with disease or injury

In-depth and detailed knowledge in these four foundational areas is essential to a coder’s ability to read and understand what is written in the record. Only then is a coder able to translate it accurately and completely into the appropriate codes. Without thorough knowledge in these areas, it will be difficult to build your career.

The beginner coder who invests time and energy in mastering this foundational knowledge will be a better coder. The seasoned coder, especially anyone returning to the workforce or taking on a new area of coding, will benefit from periodic reviews.


Get Foundational Knowledge Essential for Medical Record Coding!
Medical record coders require foundational knowledge in certain key areas: anatomy & physiology, medical terminology, pharmacology, and pathophysiology. The Medical Coding Foundational Skills program equips coders with the knowledge needed for a successful medical record coding career. Learn more here

About the Author

Angela Lima
Angela Lima applies a hands-on approach to her role as the Director of Education for Libman Education. Whether overseeing the work of subject matter experts including nationally recognized coding authorities; challenging instructional designers to deliver content in a way that is both engaging and memorable; or tapping her 25 years’ experience in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room coding to write coder-friendly courses herself, Angela is responsible for ensuring that our training is accurate, easily accessible, and challenging.

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