HCC Documentation: Get it Where You Can!


If you are wondering whether the documentation for a patient seen in the emergency department is relevant to HCC coding, the answer is an emphatic Yes! In fact, claims from the emergency department and any other outpatient hospital department qualify for HCC capture.

These outpatient service providers need similar education on the nuances of HCCs to encourage their documentation of all relevant conditions the patient has. Whether the services are provided in the emergency department, rehabilitation, hospital ambulatory surgery, clinics or any other outpatient setting, education of the outpatient providers is very important.

So what are we asking these providers to document? Our long-time standard for when to code a condition is if it meets one or more of the MEAT criteria: that is the condition is Measured or Monitored; Evaluated; Assessed or Addressed; and/or Treated.
Examples include:

  • Monitor – signs, symptoms, disease progression, disease regression
  • Evaluate – test results, medication effectiveness, response to treatment
  • Assess/Address – ordering tests, discussion, review records, counseling
  • Treat – medications, therapies, other modalities

My advice to physician practices is that their CDI and coding staff work to ensure documentation is complete and demonstrates all four MEAT elements.


HCC – Fundamentals of Hierarchical Condition Categories
Go beyond just the diagnoses — really understand the methodology behind HCCs! Prepare for the future of healthcare reimbursement with “HCC: Fundamentals of Hierarchical Condition Categories,” by nationally recognized HCC authority Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE. Learn more here.

Looking for hands-on practice in HCCs?
Try “HCC: Fundamentals of Hierarchical Condition Categories
with Practice Cases.” Includes “Abstract & Code It!” exercises to reinforce learning. Learn more here.


About the Author

Rose Dunn
Rose Dunn is the Chief Operating Officer at First Class Solutions, Inc., a healthcare information management leader since 1988. Rose is the author of “The Revenue Integrity Manager’s Guidebook” available from the National Association of Healthcare Revenue Integrity and other books on Coding Management and Auditing from HCPro. She engaged herself in ICD-10 more than 10 years before it was implemented. She is assisting Libman Education in the development of an HCC educational program. Rose holds a BS and MBA from Saint Louis University.

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