07 September 2011
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Q. We would like to begin disease-coding in the practice, initially for clinical audit, with the aim of chronic disease management. What coding or classification system should we use?

The coding system to use is ICPC-2, the International Classification of Primary Care. ICPC-2 was developed by WONCA. ICPC-2 classifies patient data and clinical activity in the domains of general practice and primary care, taking into account the frequency distribution of problems seen in these domains. It allows for the classification of the patient's reason for encounter (RFE), the problems/diagnosis and the managed interventions. You can access a two-page document which lists the ICPC-2 codes at www.globalfamilydoctor.com/wicc/pagers/english.pdf. You won't find every code you want in ICPC-2. In total, the system has 1,400 terms. If there is a granular diagnosis or procedure that you wish to code and it is not available in ICPC-2, then use ICD-10. Once you start coding diseases, you will want to search for patients with particular disease codes. A series of documents by the GPIT co-ordinators on how to use practice software systems to carry out an audit is available on the GPIT website, www.gpit.ie.

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