Building the Coding Team You Need


by Angela Lima, BS, CCS, CDIP, COC, CIC, AAPC-Approved Instructor

The formula for building a successful coding team is straightforward: hire qualified coders, provide them access to continuing education to keep their skills sharp and matched to your requirements, and build strong and trusting relationships between coders, auditors, educators, providers, and supportive leaders.

The first step, identifying and hiring a qualified candidate, is not an easy task. How can an organization ensure it is hiring the right candidates?

Coder Assessments
The new-hire assessment is a critical step in candidate selection. Although there are many factors to consider, a coding test is a good screening tool to measure a candidate’s ability to code real-life scenarios. Consider using a short quiz focused on the types of cases for which the coder will have responsibility. Aside from new hire vetting, assessments of current coding staff help determine areas where additional education is needed. (Libman Education offers excellent job-specific coding skills assessments!)

Interview
The interview process is essential to hiring a qualified coder. Ask questions to assess coding knowledge and experience, evaluate skills, and determine if the candidate is a fit for your team. Interview questions should be meaningful and prepared ahead of time.

Credential Verification
It is easy to do and often can be done online. Go that extra mile. A credentialed coder is a qualified resource who stays current with changes to the coding systems and actively participates in continuing education to constantly improve their skills and their value to your team.

New Graduates
Many hospitals have minimum experience requirements and are hesitant to hire new graduates because they lack work experience. However, candidates just out of school are fresh and eager to learn, and with focused training in the type of work they will be doing, can quickly become effective team members. Furthermore, many are already certified. (Libman Education’s Core Coding Skills for the Hospital Coder provides the essential workforce training necessary for a new grad or other entry-level hospital coder.)

Cross-training
Finding a well-trained coder can be a challenge. Retain the ones you have and help them gain the skills you need. Promote from within. Invest in your people. Educate, educate, educate! Crosstrain your coders and let them know that you believe in them and their ability to develop their skill. (Libman Education’s Accelerated Inpatient Coder Training and Accelerated Outpatient Coder Training builds on your coder’s valuable on-the-job experience and knowledge and supplements their skills with the essential training necessary to assume new coding responsibilities.)

Finding Candidates
Get Creative. Let your existing staff know of opportunities they may want for themselves or for a friend. Advertise your open positions on LinkedIn, national association job boards, professional websites, and local chapters. Notify local colleges and accept referrals. Tell the candidates why your organization will be a good professional ‘home’ for them for years to come.

Finding the staff you need for the work you have is a challenge but one where success can be part of your plan. Good luck!

 

Give your coders the training and the resources they need to get to the right answer faster! 

The eLearning Library Subscription provides unlimited access to over 60 courses, assessments, and training curricula designed to enhance job-specific, self-paced learning for one full year. Earn AAPC and AHIMA CEUs. Resources and training for the individual or an entire team. Learn more here.

About the Author

Angela Lima
Angela Lima applies a hands-on approach to her role as the Director of Education for Libman Education. Whether overseeing the work of subject matter experts including nationally recognized coding authorities; challenging instructional designers to deliver content in a way that is both engaging and memorable; or tapping her 25 years’ experience in inpatient, outpatient, and emergency room coding to write coder-friendly courses herself, Angela is responsible for ensuring that our training is accurate, easily accessible, and challenging.

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