by Stacy Swartz, RHIA, CCS, CPC
In healthcare, an industry of constant evolution, there is absolutely no way to succeed without ongoing, continuous education. Coders require yearly training to remain current with annual changes to the coding systems and coding advice, changes to what is captured by coders (data for quality measures, risk adjustment, etc.) and medical technology advancements. If your coders are being groomed to broaden their skills and increase their value to the organization, training in the new area is critical. Investment in your staff’s skill level will return value in terms of confidence in their ability to handle the types and complexity of cases assigned to them.
Build a team of coders who can effectively code all settings and service lines. Evaluate the skill set of each coder and identify focused areas for education. Develop a plan of attack and set a timeline with performance metrics. Plan accordingly for a decrease in production while the coder works to master their new skill.
Credential Maintenance and Continuing Education
Invest in your people. Provide education and offer CEUs to support their credentials. Handle the function internally or partner with a company that can provide the service for you.
Each year new procedures are approved and coders must be trained to code these new procedures — do not expect them to learn on the fly, or worse, to guess. Include the new procedure in your audit rotation until your coders have achieved consistent and correct code assignment.
Yearly Coding Changes
Educate your coders on the yearly code changes before the changes are implemented.
All best laid plans fail without proper follow-up; your audits are meaningless without post-audit education. Be diligent. Encourage a relationship between your auditors and your educators. Adhere to policies.
Budget for Education
When budgets are tight, education is often the first item cut. The danger is that lacking or non-existent educational programs can lead to lower coder quality performance. Do not allow this domino effect to take hold in your organization.
This article is an excerpt from the Libman Education white paper “Does your Coding Team Meet Your Standard of Quality? Four Principles to Help your Coding Team Succeed.” Request your free download here.
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Stacy Swartz, RHIA, CCS, CPC
Stacy Swartz has 25 years of experience in Health Information Management, having worked all facets of the profession from coding to billing to Vice President of Operations. With expertise in both professional and facility service lines, she has served as an educator and consultant to over 2,000 coders and upwards of 400 physicians. Ms. Swartz’s coding experience includes both inpatient and outpatient services, having worked with several of the largest Health Systems and Hospitals in the industry.