The much-anticipated (or dreaded, depending on your coders' readiness) deadline of October 1, 2015 for implementation of the new medical coding system ICD-10 has come and gone. Added to these changes are the regulations and coverage changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act / ACA ('Obamacare'), changes in PQRS coming in 2015 as well as the eligibility of many practices for entry into Meaningful Use Stage 2, and you have all the ingredients for a major coding headache.
The takeaway for health care providers is that not only will your medical billing staff need to be up to speed on the new coding and other changes, but, according to a report by the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), providers also need to become better educated in improving the quality of documentation to ensure the most accurate code assignment for reimbursement. To make things even tougher, many areas face shortages of qualified coders.
Computer Assisted Coding: A Proven Aid To Efficiency
The challenge for most practices is to become compliant quickly in all of the above while losing as little daily productivity as possible. For those who have been following our blog over the past year or so, by now your practice or organization should be well on its way to successfully coding claims with the new guidelines and regulations. If this doesn't sound like your organization, or you have trouble finding enough coders to fill productivity vacancies, don't fear because help is available!
One of the best ways to reduce your billing office's downtime while everyone is still on the learning curve is to utilize computer assisted coding, or CAC. Such software solutions have been shown in several studies to help reduce backlogs and errors while it increases staff accuracy and productivity. It's a good solution for practices' office managers as it supports remote coding, so coders no longer have to live in the immediate area.
How Does Computer Assisted Coding Save Practices Time And Money?
The latest generation of CAC program complements ICD-9 and updated ICD-10 coding systems and expands a coder's function from a code assigner to that of a validator by removing much of the guesswork of interpreting manuals and more limited coding choices in the past. One fear of coders is that using CAC will eliminate their jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth: AHIMA reports that when used as intended, CAC will not replace the expertise of coders, but rather streamline their work by:
Completing documentation, which helps everyone
Suggesting possible codes
Highlighting important coding information
Allowing coders to work remotely, if necessary
Many coders come to appreciate the time saved and increased accuracy once the programs have been in place long enough to prove their value to the practice.
What To Look For In A CAC Program:
A good CAC program should ensure that the highest quality levels of data, accuracy, best practices and improved HIM standards are consistently met. When selecting a program vendor you will need to know:
What evaluation criteria will be used by the vendor to determine the best program or system for your office. This is usually based on the number of employees who need access, your budget, and the amount of time available to train your coders and others who will use it.
Whether your present medical billing system, if applicable, can be integrated into the new program or whether it will stand alone
The software vendor should also offer backup support and post-sale training for any future software updates.
M-Scribe offers your practice another alternative to keeping up with your work flow while implementing all of the above changes. Their in-house CAC solution can assist practices of all sizes with medical documentation and procedure and diagnosis codes. M-Scribe ICD-10 certified coders can also help your staff and physician in ICD-10 training, provider credentialing and other reimbursement strategies.
If your business is in need of a change and are serious about saving time and money with medical coding, please feel free to contact one of our experienced consultants for a free evaluation of your organization's needs and reimbursement strategies.