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Coders in a Hospital

​Frances Yap, Assistant Manager, Clinical Services, CGH

Meet Ms Frances Yap, who joined Changi General Hospital (CGH) in June 2000 as a Clinical Coding Specialist. 

Clinical coders read patients’ case notes, extract and translate written clinical statements into an alphanumeric code as determined by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) and Classification of Health Interventions. The coded data reflect trends in clinician practices and the quality of clinical care provided by clinicians. With this data, departments have a sound basis for decision making processes such as planning for resource allocation, resource utilisation reviews and performance improvement

After undergoing a three year online programme from the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), Australia, Frances worked with other senior coders from CGH and KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) to design a structured training programme for incoming junior coders. “With this programme, junior coders would receive the same level of training as senior coders. “This
would also result in cost savings for the department,” said Frances.

Their new programme, titled the “Cross-Institutional Coders Structured Training Programme (C-ISTP)”, was organised from October 2004 to May 2005 and replaced the training by QUT, with trainees sitting for the same examination. This allowed trainees to undergo an in-house training programme tailored to their needs, with senior staff around to provide personalised guidance where
needed. A total of 17 coders from CGH and KKH had the opportunity to exchange ideas and expertise on coding techniques in areas that were unique to their own hospitals and departments.

In 2012, Frances transferred to the Maintenance of Competency team in the Clinical Services Department. Her clinical coding knowledge continues to come in handy in her role in evaluating the clinical performance of specialists in CGH and identifying areas of improvement.

“We were taking on the role of the expert trainers. Expectations were high and the six of us worked hard to develop a comprehensive formal training programme. The programme was a success and junior coders were able to work smoothly without the need for external training,” she said.