With the launch of PDGM, coding has become more difficult, takes up more time, and requires more skill than ever before. Let’s look at five things your agency can do to improve your home health coding operations for better results.
1. Limit non-coding tasks.
Did you know that it takes an average of 25 minutes to return to the original task after an interruption. Starting and stopping work throughout the day to perform other tasks is difficult for anyone, much less a coder who has a full workload. It can be unreasonable to expect your coders to manage other work and still produce high quality work. Reduce distractions by turning off email, sending calls to voicemail, and reducing the number of staff meetings. Set designated times for your coders to address outstanding emails and calls separate from coding volume expectations.
2. Beware of cheat sheets.
Coding cheat sheets are great to help coders remember important acronyms, diagnosis codes, patient status codes, condition codes, occurrence codes, revenue and Medicare Secondary Payer (MSP) value codes. However, you want to be sure that your coders don’t rely on these cheat sheets too heavily. They should use these as tools and reference guides and not as shortcuts to get their coding done more quickly. While cheat sheets can certainly help your coders improve speed, they can also lead to complacency and a lack of specificity needed for accurate reimbursement.
3. Audit your home health coding operations.
If you don’t know there’s anything wrong with your coding, how can you fix it? Regularly audit your clinical documentation and coding to bring any quality issues to forefront. Share any problems and successes with your team, so they can use that information as learning opportunities for improvement. Take the time to make sure documentation is sufficient, primary and secondary diagnoses are properly identified, specificity is achieved, and all coding is compliant.
4. Prioritize professional development and training.
Be sure to invest in professional development and training for your coding staff. PDGM was an enormous shift for all home health coders. Regulation changes such as that will continue to happen and it’s in your best interest to make sure they are knowledgeable. Enroll your coders in online and face to face coding refresher classes. Participate in webinars, conferences, and other events offered by your state home health organization. Join the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and take advantage of their learning opportunities.
5. Get help if you need it.
We know you’re passionate about providing the best patient care you can, and fast, accurate coding is a part of that. But we get it. Not all these things are possible for everyone. If you need help with your home health coding operations, get it. There are organizations like HealthRev Partners that specialize in home health coding. They have experts who are solely focused on coding day in and day out. In fact, many partners (like us) offer PRN coding to help you with coding backlogs or in times of need.