What Healthcare Terminology Teaches Us About Workplace Success

Buzzwords are easy to recognize because they stand out from other language. The term buzzword is itself a portmanteau, out of step with the rest of language.

They’re often very descriptive, crackling with power. Knowledge of the proper lingo, jargon, or buzzwords can be useful in your career – though using too much special terminology can cause communication to become less than clear.

Cigna Chief Learning Officer Karen Kocher is no stranger to industry lingo – the healthcare field is rife with examples. Here, she describes a few of the more common terms within healthcare.

  • Loss Ratio: This is a term that seems obvious at first, but its particular niche within the health care field lends it a slightly different meaning than meets the eye. As Kocher explains, it refers to, “the ratio of dollars you’ve brought in to the ratio of dollars you’re going to pay out for claims. So ‘loss’ in this case is basically somebody having some type of trouble that causes him/her to have to trigger the use of his/her insurance.” What does this mean for you? Pay attention to double meanings – ensure the word you’re using means what you intend it to.
  • Formulary: Is it a mathematical equation? A fancy apothecary? Nope – these days, even industry insiders are ditching this term for the clearer, more widely understood synonym, “prescription.” What does this mean for you? Words evolve. Make sure you’re up on the current meaning and most common usage of industry terms. Using outdated terms can make you look out of touch.
  • Bed Days: This has nothing to do with PTO, bedhead or days so bad you should’ve stayed in bed. In the health care field, it refers to how many days a customer spends in the hospital. What does this mean for you? Not everything is quite so literal – be aware of terms like this that have several possible meanings.
  • ICD Codes: They may look like alphabet soup, but these government-issued codes are critical for companies like Cigna to get right if anyone wants to get reimbursed. “You really do have to say them correctly,” Kocher explains, “because otherwise there could be some serious consequences to using the wrong language, using the wrong references.” What does this mean for you? You can’t fight it. Acronyms are everywhere – succumb to their power and learn those that are critical to your industry, and be careful about using the correct abbreviations.

What do you think? Do buzzwords hurt or help?

Get more from Karen Kocher and other CTU Presents speakers and healthcare subject matter experts.