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?
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!)
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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!
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