20 Years of CAC Leadership

People often ask whether the "PLATO" naming convention and head logo has any meaning. The answer dates back to the early 1990s when our founder, Dr John Ryan, realized that clinical coding would soon become a major challenge for healthcare providers- unless the process could be automated. With the support of his colleagues, Dr Ryan stepped aside from medicine for one year in 1992 to address this challenge. Twenty years later, he still leads our company and remains a passionate promoter of Computer-Assisted Coding (CAC).

When he began the company, Dr Ryan's Orthopedic colleagues were maintaining modified ICD-9 databases with additional digits to allow for more precise categorization. Dr Ryan realized that static code sets would not be adequate for very long: a useful automation process would need to handle multiple code sets to meet varying needs. He was also well aware that "truth changes in healthcare" meaning that a static code set based on the knowledge of the day will become less useful as soon as new knowledge is found that isn't distinguished in the codes.

As a result, Dr Ryan devised and then Patented his binary patterning mechanism. This unique process produces a binary pattern that is not human-readable but retains all of the rich clinical detail that clinicians themselves thought important enough to record. To convert the pattern to a code set, the pattern is dropped through a code set "filter" to yield the corresponding codes. The same binary pattern can be dropped through multiple filters simultaneously to yield multiple code sets and as medical knowledge changes or annual code revisions are published, filters are easily enhanced to filter for new information or codes.

At first these products were targeted at physicians and were labeled "MR PLATO" (Medically Relevant Precis Logbooks Audit Trials Organizer). This was quickly shortened to "PLATO" and subsequently rebranded as "PLATOCODE®" to reflect the company's main focus. But the "PLATO head" logo has survived essentially unchanged since 1990.


In the early 1990s, few healthcare providers had electronic systems that could be used to automate the coding process. As a result, our company began its life developing clinical documentation, EPR and clinical governance solutions so that we would have something to code. That part of the company became successful in its own right and was widely recognized for its market-leading products and innovative approaches.

Even so, the company never lost its primary interest in Computer-Assisted Coding and we continued to refine and enhance the engine over the years, securing the first CAC Patents in 1995 and 1998.

Code Sets

In the early 1990s, coding was done to the ICD-9 standard all over the world. However, by the late 1990s, countries in Oceania and Europe had moved to ICD-10 or variants of ICD-10, for example the Australian ICD-10-AM modification that has been adopted by other countries as well. The PLATOCODE CAC engine was easily modified to handle the new codes and their annual revisions. By 2012, the engine's capabilities were impressive. ICD-9 is no longer used so has been retired as a maintained code set, but today customers can choose from ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-AM, PCS, CPT, E/M, OPCS4 or other code sets with an electronic index as well as a tabular form.

After more than 20 years of research and effort, the PLATOCODE company is proud to present its automated coding solution, PLATOCODE®. This is an advanced, non-statistical tool that assists coders to work more quickly and accurately than ever. Benefits and Return on Investment are clearly demonstrable when you use the unique patented PLATOCODE solution.

How it works