The medical the world speak many languages but the medicine uses a common language: the international code ICD-10. “We translate what doctors write into the clinic history when they take care of a patient to these codes ”, indicates Ruth Cuscó, general director of Asho, the company that carries out 47% of the codifications of the Spanish sanitary sector.
Asho’s clients are hospitals, especially those who work for public health. Thus, in the current health crisis, a hospital can know how many patients have been treated urgently for coronavirus, what symptoms they presented, their personal characteristics and medical history, and monitor their evolution. “With our codes, healthcare is computerized, and that data is the raw material that enables scientists, and epidemiologists, to have statistics on what is happening.”
The firm has 47% of the market in Spain and invoices 1.6 million euros with 16 workers
Asho was born 25 years ago, although initially it was only as a division of a health management company, JDC Asociados.
When this firm was sold in 2006 to the American multinational Iron Mountain, Asho continued as an independent company. And in 2012 the executives of the firm entered the capital, including Cuscó itself, with about 20%. The firm now has 16 workers, and 22 freelance documentary makers, who at home review the coding that their computer programs generate in the rough.
Carlos Sevillano, commercial director of the firm, explains that AshoIndex, the program that the firm has developed, has been precisely the basis of its growth: it has allowed them to go from billing less than a million euros in 2017 to 1.6 million euros last year. “We only carried out the coding on behalf of the hospitals, but in 2017 we decided to commercialize our program. It is different from those on the market because it has been done with documentary filmmakers in mind, and it shows. ”
Furthermore, the change in the international classification of diseases that took effect in 2016 caused a wave of outsourcing of services in many hospitals. “The new system is much more complex and each process is identified with a 7-digit code. So hospitals had to double their workforce or outsource the task, which is what most have done, “says Cuscó.
Asho codes 600,000 discharges annually and is incorporating artificial intelligence into its programs to improve coding accuracy and speed, which is now being incorporated into hospital emergencies and outpatient consultations. “We have expanded the workforce with mathematicians and we are going to invest 250,000 euros in the project,” says Sevillano, who anticipates that billing will also grow in double digits in the coming years.
Coding, explains Sevillano, is not only key to science: it is also key to the finances of hospitals, which in Catalonia are financed based on the complexity of the healthcare they provide. “33% of the financing of a hospital depends on its complexity. Furthermore, with our data, the health authorities can compare hospitals and have a real photo of what is happening, in health terms, in each center. ”