Saturday, May 21, 2022

5 Ways Medical Coders Can Finish the Year Strong

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5 Points That Help Medical Coders for Success of Their Career

Medical coding is an excellent occupation for self-motivated, hard-working people committed to making a difference in healthcare. Whether you are just starting your career journey or are ready for a change of pace that allows for professional advancement, explore five unique points of this field. Working as a medical coder could be a fit for you! 

“Coding is much more of an art than it is a science,” 

medical coders

If your coding department is identifying inefficiencies, dealing with coding-related backlogs and getting by with a low budget and slim staff, chances there is an impact — and not a positive one — on your organization’s bottom line. Medical coding has an ever-increasing effect on revenue cycle performance. So making improvements to your coders’ work environment, finding relevant topics for training, and maximizing available technology can all positively affect total cash collected at the end of the day, week, month, or year.

Take the time to analyze your coding department. Whether you run a one-person show or a large multi-specialty team, these six tips for your coding operations will positively affect your revenue cycle performance.

Stop interrupting & limit your coders’ non-coding duties

On average, it takes 23 minutes for a team member who is interrupted to return to a deep level of concentration on a task. Therefore, turning off email alerts, minimizing irrelevant meetings, and blocking off time to focus on important projects can reduce distractions and increase your coders’ productivity. And whatever you do, please refrain from putting coders in the same room with the staff refrigerator. 

Here’s one that will help with healthy work habits and get noticed by your employer. Whether you’re working from home or in an office, maintaining or increasing production toward the end of the year — when most employees start to stand — can separate you from the pack and get you on track of increased production for the new year. 

Are any of your coders’ assigned front-end business duties like appointment scheduling or assisting with patient check-in? Limit your coders’ non-coding tasks to focus on what they do best — code. There are many benefits to closely reviewing work assignments to decide if non-coding jobs are adequately placed with non-coding staff. Still, it’s important to note that sometimes coders are best suited to additional duties. For instance, if you have highly compassionate coders with a gift for simplifying complex medical language into plain-speak, they might be perfectly suited to answering coding related questions for your patients.

Happy workers are productive workers. Make sure your work environment is positive and conducive to focused work. Having an opportunity for breaks doesn’t hurt, either. 

Get training on how to use the EMR properly.

Often team members receive minimal training and never learn the essential details that can make processing information infinitely easier. Train your EMR across all positions (provider, clinical support staff, front desk, revenue cycle specialists, and coders) to avoid mistakes. Its meaning is to ensure that “the left arm knows what the right arm is doing.”

Expanding your knowledge gives you more confidence about your abilities, puts you in a position to raise your responsibilities, and is a positive step for your medical coding career. Consider taking another course to another specialty, and, while you’re at it, know that you are increasing your earning prospect.

Use audits to improve coding accuracy

A coding compliance audit can bring quality issues to the forefront to be addressed on time. When done with the right choice, style, and frequency, medical coding audits will improve coding accuracy when feedback is shared with providers and coders. And here’s a tip within a tip: don’t let your coders think for a moment that an audit is a negative (or worse, punishing) practice. When you audit coders with the goal of continuous professional growth, the positive outcomes splash both directions within the revenue cycle. 

Learn how co-sourcing improves coding operations

When you co-source coding to use the most basic language, you gain highly-trained, remote medical coders who work directly in your EMR. If you strengthened at that last line, rest assured that a few key signatures on a legal department-approved HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) are precisely the protection you need. In addition, co-sourcing with a coding partner to complement your existing team offers flexibility that is otherwise hard to attain. You are instantly and ideally staffed with the right medical coders for the volume and type of work coming through your door at any given time.

Keep up with changes in medical care.

Updates occur annually in CPT, Health Standard Procedure Coding System (HCPCS) and ICD-10. Your coders need to be knowledgeable and educated on all coding-related updates. Still, now more than ever, it’s critical that they understand what impact value-based care and new reporting guidelines will have on the cost of patient care. For instance, Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) is a risk adjustment model that has been around for years but has heightened visibility since Medicare Advantage Plans started to require risk adjustment factor (RAF) scores for reimbursement. Today it should be on the radar of every coding leader and every commercial payer, for that matter. To understand HCC, you need a basic grasp of Risk Adjustment (RA) and vice versa. 

 

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Dennis L. Hernandez
I am a medical biller, a blogger and have 20 years of experience in medical billing, medical billing management, and medical assistant. My background includes positions as a clinical medical assistant, medical records technician, medical office manager, biller, and coder.

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