Medical coding has been in search of the holy grail for a long time. We define this as the perfect blend of the following:
- Low cost
Medical Coding Initiatives
In the quest for the best solution to meet these three ever so important criteria, there have been some key attempts, some of which you may have tried.
There are Natural-Language Processing (NLP) coding apps which are supposed to electronically read radiology reports and then code them out. These apps weren’t all that inexpensive and have accuracy challenges as well.
The other great initiative was to outsource coding overseas with the promise of cheap labor. Most people will tell you that their efforts saw a decrease in accuracy.
Of course, you can always just ask more of your coding staff. The problem is that if they increase in speed dramatically it comes at the price of accuracy. If you give them more and expect the same accuracy, you get significant coding backlogs.
Medical Coding Trifecta
This is what it will look like if we draw the scenario:
The unfortunate truth is that you can easily achieve two of the three goals, but it’s nearly impossible to obtain all three. Here’s what you’ll likely see...
- You can have inexpensive and accurate, but you can’t have timely.
- You can have timely and accurate, but it will cost you.
- You can have timely and inexpensive but it will be at the cost of accuracy.
We’ve tested both NLP auto-coding and outsourcing with predictable results. We will probably try again as time goes on. So far, we have traded accuracy and timeliness at the expense of cost.
Unlocking the Secret to Achieving All Three
Just because it’s attainable to achieve two, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t strive for greatness in all three. There can be incremental improvements to cost, accuracy, and timeliness even if you don’t reach your ultimate goal.
For example, during a consulting engagement, we determined we could save a large imaging center chain a little less than $100k per year. This was achieved by decommissioning their autocoder and outsourcing their coding domestically. With these changes, we felt the client could see improved accuracy and consistent timeliness.
In this example, accuracy and timeliness stayed fairly constant. Once the modifications were in place, the client was saving money all the while keeping their accuracy and timeliness steady. They’re still paying a good chunk for coding, but as we said, it is less than before.
Improve Medical Coding Accuracy, Cost, and Speed
Nearly every client we meet with has the opportunity to improve one or more of these key areas in medical coding.
If you would like to improve your coding and optimize the costs, timeliness, and accuracy, let us help you determine where incremental improvements exist.