What are EDI codes?
EDI Codes is a frequently misused and misunderstood term. The term EDI Codes is often used to refer to the transaction document that is being sent using the EDI process. A more accurate definition of the term EDI Codes however is in describing individual elements contained in the EDI documents and what they mean to the sender and recipients of the EDI information. EDI Codes are used to provide information on the specifics of the document in question.
EDI Codes and Document Types
When discussing EDI codes the first task is to separate proper nomenclature. While many people use the term "EDI Codes" to refer to EDI documents (like an EDI 856), this usage is actually incorrect. The proper term for these types of EDI codes is "EDI transactions" or "EDI Documents" The EDI Codes are actually the individual elements of data that are contained within the documents themselves.
EDI Codes within Documents
Within an EDI document, the EDI codes are used to describe individual information. For example, EDI codes are used in identifying containers used in freight shipments. EDI codes like 22B0 for instance represent a 20 foot container, the EDI codes 22G0 and 22H0 respectively represent a 20 foot standard dry container and a 20 foot insulated container.
EDI codes then are the language that make up the EDI document and the individual pieces that provide detailed information to the recipient of the documents in question. Another example of the use of EDI codes is in the transmission of HIPAA-based documents in the health-care field. The commonwealth of Kentucky specifies the use of EDI codes 01 through 09 to indicate the type of injury a claimant has received as part of the HIPAA EDI documents.
EDI Codes and Errors
Another common use for EDI codes is to identify errors in communication and data. When an EDI document is received with errors a document is sent in response (for example an EDI 824 Application Advice) that contains information about the EDI errors in the original document. In the HIPAA world, EDI error codes like 01 and 02 are used to indicate respectively, an invalid member date of birth an an invalid member. In this fashion EDI codes are used to provide instant feedback on problems with EDI transmissions.
Understanding EDI Codes
Understanding EDI codes and their various uses can be a tedious and time consuming process. Fortunately there are options. While understanding and deciphering EDI codes related to errors is an important aspect of using EDI, understanding EDI codes related to individual documents is not as critical. The reason for this is simple, most EDI translators can take the EDI codes and make them available in another, easier to understand format that the user will be able to cope with, for example a printer report, that will have all the EDI codes translated into a human readable form.