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Clinical Coder

What does a Clinical Coder do?

A clinical coder, or medical coder, is a medical health professional whose main function is to translate medical information into coded data. A clinical coder will interpret information about the patient, such as medical diagnosis, prodecures and interventions, and translate these into standardised codes using a classification system.

Medical aid schemes require the submission of clinical codes as part of a patient’s account to reimburse the services rendered by healthcare providers. All diagnoses, procedures and interventions pertaining to the treatment of a patient are translated by a clinical coder into clinical codes.

Other than for reimbursement purposes, clinical coding can also be used to facilitate storage, retrieval and statistical analysis of clinical information for comparison and decision-making.

Clinical coding ensures consistency in the reporting and capturing of patient clinical information across the healthcare industry in South Africa, which means that there is also consistency in reporting to South African legislative bodies.

Clinical coders are typically highly organised and detail-driven individuals who must be able to identify codes in a systematic and structured manner. They are expected to interpret medical information for the purpose of translating said information into clinical codes. Clinical coding requires technical and analytical skills. Although a medical background is helpful, it is usually not a prerequisite for such a position.

Given the high demand for qualified clinical coders, several career opportunities are available in a variety of settings; these include hospitals, clinics, medical practices, medical aid schemes, law firms, and public and government agencies.

Mediclinic Higher Education


What qualifications do I need?

A clinical coder requires a recognised qualification in the field, such as a Higher Certificate in Diagnostic and Procedural Coding. It is important to ensure that the relevant qualification meets the specified SAQA standard. Many clinical coders pursue this career after previous experience in the medical or healthcare field.

Entry into the relevant courses requires a Grade 12 senior certificate with admission to higher certificate studies or a National Vocational Certificate, equivalent to Grade 12 at a NQF level 4.

What subjects do I need?

Contact each institution for their specific requirements, but these subjects are recommended: 
• English
Life (Biology) or Physical Science
Mathematics Literacy (level 4) or Mathematics (level 3)


Where can I study?

Mediclinic Private Higher Education Institution
Higher Certificate in Diagnostic and Procedural Coding

University of Cape Town - Faculty of Health Sciences

Various short courses in Health Classification

Where can I get more info?

Mediclinic - Clinical Coding Programme
Western Cape Government - Introduction to ICD-10 Coding