Hospital and Healthcare Networks Face the Challenge of Finding (and Keeping!) Qualified Coders


by Stacy Swartz, RHIA, CCS, CPC

Coding is not a one-size-fits-all occupation and experienced coders tend to focus their skills in one or more areas: inpatient vs. outpatient, Pro Fee vs. facility, and the vast range of medical specialties and care settings. It is vital to employ coders who are experienced in the type of records they will be coding.

Although the number of coding professionals within the industry grows each year, finding a qualified candidate is not an easy task. How can an organization ensure it is hiring qualified 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.

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 in the industry and actively participates in continuing education to constantly improve their skills.

New Graduates
Many hospitals have minimum experience requirements and are hesitant to hire new graduates because they lack field 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. Local colleges that offer coding classes are a good option for recruiting entry-level coders.

Sourcing
Get Creative! Advertise your positions on LinkedIn, national association job boards, professional websites, and local chapters. Notify local colleges and accept referrals.

Coder Retention
Finding a well-trained coder can be a challenge. Retain the ones you have. Promote from within. Invest in your people. Educate, educate, educate! Cross-train your coders and let them know that you believe in them and their ability to develop their skill.

This article is an excerpt from the Libman Education white paper “Does your Coding Team Meet our 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.

About the Author

Libman Education
Libman Education Inc. is a leading provider of training for the health care workforce offering self-paced and instructor-led online courses designed and developed by leading industry experts in Health Information Management (HIM) and Medical Record Coding. Our courses are specifically designed to improve individual skills and increase the efficiencies and competencies of health care providers and institutions. At Libman Education, we understand the needs and challenges of a well-trained workforce and offer the right-mix of online education to ensure that the health care professionals are prepared to meet the challenges of the changing workplace.

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