Northern Territory

Central Australian coding expert takes out national award

In an Australian first, the Director of Health Information for the Central Australia Health Service (CAHS) Janine Wapper has achieved national recognition for her coding skills.

Ms Wapper recently received the inaugural award for Classification, Coding and Costing at the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s Health Finance Awards 2018.

CAHS Chief Finance Officer Murray Brown said that Ms Wapper was honoured for her dedication and consistent coding skills on the national stage.

“It’s a real feather in Janine’s cap because she is known as ‘the guru’ of clinical coding and Activity Based Funding (ABF) in the health service and this award reflects the achievements of the her and her coding team,” Mr Brown said.

“For more than 20 years Janine’s contemporary coding expertise on a ‘day-to-day’ basis has given the health service management team a sound understanding of future services and the funding that we will need.”

The award is for excellence by an individual who has improved classification, coding and/or costing processes leading to better information for the health service to use when making decisions about health service delivery.

Clinical coding is a health administration function that involves the translation of written clinical statements into a code format. A clinical coder will analyse information about patient care and assign standardised codes using a special classification system.

“I love my job and I was absolutely surprised at winning. I received this award for working in a fabulous place with amazing people,” Ms Wapper said.

“Basically when we code a patient’s record we are actually painting a picture of what happened to them in hospital in code for statistical purposes and funding. We code everything.

“The coding information we provide is used to assess ABF payments to CAHS so that we can get the funding needed for our patients to be well cared for into the future.”

Health information management is often under-recognised as the work is not visible to clients, patients or the public and this is why recognising the people who record this data so proficiently is important.

“Another large part of Janine’s role is to provide guidance to clinicians on correctly documenting information in a format that extends into code, and she does it thoroughly,” Mr Brown said.

Two other CAHS finance officers were finalists in the Health Finance Awards 2018, Rachel Flavell for Rural/Regional Outstanding Achievement 2018 and Kierlan Quan for Finance Rising Star 2018.

“Having two finalists and one winner across the seven categories of the Health Finance Awards is a fantastic result for CAHS and the Northern Territory,” Mr. Brown said.

Source: NT Government