August 19, 2015
Medical coders certified in ICD-10 continue to be a ‘sought-after commodity’ for healthcare providers in the US. With less than 45 days left for the big transition, it has become necessary for practices to either replace or retain their professional coders to ensure timely payments.
In an interesting finding, many healthcare organizations are wary of getting their existing coders trained and certified in ICD-10 at an early stage because they fear that if they receive early training, another practice might swoop in and recruit them at a higher package. The new code set will impact the productivity of coders and even if all the systems are in place, providers will have to face challenges if their coders are not well-trained in handling the complexities of the new codes.
It is being estimated that ICD-10 implementation will cause temporary drop in coding productivity of 50% and permanent drop of 20%
As per the results of a national pilot program released by the HIMSS and WEDI, coders who used ICD-10 codes averaged two medical records per hour which is less compared to four medical records per hour under ICD-9
A 50% decline in productivity was witnessed which is a clear indication that hospitals and practices should be prepared to handle revenue loss due to coders’ productivity loss in the first three months after the transition.
How Can Practices Handle the Challenges of Productivity Loss?
Practices and hospitals need to take a blended approach for addressing the 50-20 gap in coding productivity through technical improvements and other strategies. Enough coding resources will not be easily available by 1st October 2015 so they need to recruit and retain their coders.
Many providers pay a retention bonus to the certified and trained coders. By offering a bonus, practices are more likely to gain the loyalty of their coders. Even coders prefer taking the bonus rather than paying a penalty for leaving the job. Many hospitals charge a penalty and ask the coders to repay the cost of their ICD-10 training if they leave their job before a certain date
Practices also need to improve the work environment and provide recruitment bonuses for current employees in order to maximize the value of their internal resources
From offering work from home opportunities to flexibility in shift scheduling, there are several ways to encourage coders to remain in their job
Not just urban practices but rural practices will also face the pressure of increased coder salaries. However, paying good salary to an experience coder will help practices earn more
MBC Helping Practices Survive Coders Productivity Loss
Many providers are ending the hassle of recruiting and training coders by relying on MBC’s expertise in coding and billing of 15 plus years. The company hires only the best and most experienced coders to deliver error-free coding services to medical practices across the country. By relying on MBC’s expert team of coders, physicians are confident of the big transition scheduled in October.