Medical Coding is an important part of the healthcare industry. Armies of medical coders work day in and day out to convert medical documentation including diagnoses, prescriptions, surgery orders, medical equipment and other instructions from the medical community into universally accepted alphanumeric codes. This coding kickstarts the billing process, and helps create claims for treatment that insurance carriers pay.
Like other parts of the healthcare industry, this practice has been evolving and keeping pace with changes in technology, demand vs supply issues among medical coders, and the ups and downs of the marketplace. With the advent of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning(ML), it’s not an understatement to say that the industry is perhaps at an inflection point – trained models can be invaluable in helping coders match codes to documentation more accurately and efficiently.
So, this is the right time for medical coding operations managers and business owners to take a step back and think about some actionable tips that could improve medical coding operations. Here goes –
- Implement quality control measures: This one goes right at the top, and deservedly so. Establish a quality control process to ensure that all codes are accurate and complete. Regular quality control checks must be part of your SOP to ensure that coding is consistent and error-free.
- Invest in ongoing education and training for your coders: The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, and it’s important for coders to stay up-to-date with the latest coding guidelines and regulations. If you’re running a medical coding operation, it’s important that your team is well-trained and educated in the latest coding updates and available technologies.
- Conduct regular audits: As a team owner or leader, performing regular internal audits to ensure that your medical coding processes are up to par is vital to success. The audits will help you identify potential issues or areas for improvement in your operations.
- Utilize technology: Take advantage of technology tools such as coding software and automated coding tools to help improve the accuracy and efficiency of your team. It goes without saying that the usage of electronic health records (EHRs) and computer-assisted coding (CAC) systems to streamline the coding process is de facto in your process, not de novo!
- Streamline communication: As with all teams, communication is vital for success. Examine your chain of command, and lines of communication. Are the team members using the available channels in your coding software? How about messaging boards and collaboration forums such as Slack to collaborate and exchange best known methods? You could also improve communication and collaboration between your coding staff and other healthcare professionals. Streamline communication channels to reduce errors and ensure that coding is accurate and up-to-date.
- Optimize workflow: Once your tech, communication and training are in place, it’s time to look at the workflow of the operations. Optimize your coding workflow to improve efficiency and reduce errors. Identify bottlenecks and areas for improvement, and streamline your coding process to minimize errors and improve productivity.
We hope this set of tips gives you some action items to take to your planning and strategy meetings!