WASHINGTON, Mar 15, CMC – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) says it is providing training and support to professionals responsible for capturing accurate data on mortality and morbidity in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“This initiative forms part of efforts to improve the quality, timeliness and consistency of information on which so many public health decisions are based,” PAHO said, adding professionals, known as mortality and morbidity coders, have a key role to play in ensuring the quality of vital and health statistics.
PAHO said coders interpret complex medical information written by doctors in order to determine a patient’s exact diagnosis or their underlying cause of death.
In order to do this, it said they assign the diagnosis with a code from the International Statistical Classification of Disease and Related Health Problems (ICD-10), which are then used to produce standardized local, national and regional health data.
“The work of coders is vital to ensuring the generation of accurate data on morbidity and mortality, which then goes on to inform the planning, monitoring and evaluation of policies to maintain and improve public health,” said Dr. Patricia L. Ruiz, acting chief of the Information Systems and Platform for Health Unit at PAHO (EIH/IS).
“Despite this responsibility, however, coders often have to interpret complex medical terminology with little to no training on the latest ICD-10 updates. This must be rectified,” he added.
In order to address this issue, PAHO said its Latin American and the Caribbean Network for Strengthening Health Information Systems (RELACSIS) has been working to develop a variety of initiatives to improve the quality of coded morbidity and mortality statistics, enhance the technical capacity of ICD coders in the region, and provide them with the tools they need to most effectively carry out their jobs.
PAHO said these initiatives include the design of virtual courses on ICD-10 mortality and morbidity coding, such as an online course for medical doctors on how to fill out death certificates, and a two-month online training for student ICD-10 coders.