Mastering Medical Coding with the CHUN™ CPT Annotation Technique

If you’re in the medical coding profession, you are already aware that correctly annotating medical codes can sometimes be challenging. This is where the CHUN CPT Annotation Technique, created by AMCI, comes into play. This ingenious technique was developed in 2014 and is the acronym for Circle, Highlight, Underline, and Notate, and it can significantly streamline your coding process. Let’s dive in and explore this technique in detail.

“C” for Circle

The first step in the CHUN technique is to “Circle” the code families. A code family comprises a parent code and its child codes. The parent code juts out, while the child codes are indented. The relationship between the parent and child codes is crucial as child codes rely on the parent code to make sense.

The parent code holds the common portion language, the language before the semi-colon, shared by the child codes. The language after the semi-colon and the indented code language are the elements that distinguish the parent and the children.

There are also stand-alone codes, which do not belong to a code family and can be understood independently.

H” for Highlight

Next, grab two different color highlighters – one for primary highlighting and the other for secondary highlighting. At AMCI, we typically use yellow as the primary color and light green as the secondary color.

With the primary highlighter, highlight the language behind the semi-colon of the parent and the child/indented code language. The secondary color is used for language in parentheses. Parenthetical language at the code level provides clarification and terms. In contrast, the language in parentheses below the code or code series serves as parenthetical guidelines, ranking among the most important guidelines.

U” for Underline

Underlining is the next step. Use this method for any keyword that distinguishes codes within a family or any keyword that differentiates other families. This technique helps to quickly identify key differences and similarities, making code selection more accurate and efficient.

N” for Notate

The final step is to “Notate.” There are three items that you need to notate:

  1. Similar to underlining, you can document the keyword that distinguishes codes within a family or keywords that distinguish other families.
  2. You should also notate CPT Red headings and/or Blue Subheadings if they are not present on the page.
  3. Lastly, it’s important to notate pertinent Guidelines (Facts to Remember Guidelines) at the bottom of the CPT pages of the corresponding codes. These guidelines offer essential coding information and instructions related to the codes on the page and should not be overlooked.

To summarize, the CHUN CPT Annotation Technique is a powerful tool for medical coders. It helps simplify the coding process and improves coding accuracy, which is critical for correct coding, billing, and reimbursement. This technique will become second nature with practice, making you a more efficient and effective medical coder. Happy coding!