When in comes to increasing profitability, I see practices focus their efforts in collecting copayments and patient balances. Others look towards decreasing cost, like buying cheaper paper or going with a cheaper merchant vendor to help boost the bottom line.
Both, of course, are important exercises for a business. But here is what I’ve noticed. There doesn’t seem to be an equal amount of energy put towards learning about medical coding and how it can have a significant impact on a practice’s numbers.
Here is a truth. Money isn’t always lost when the patient is at check-in, or when a claim is submitted, or even when a practice buys paper at $40 a bundle instead of $35.
Money is most likely lost inside the examining room as a result of poor documentation, which leads to poor coding.
Now, billers and coders are usually on the ball with their practice’s billing and coding. They are familiar with the plans, how much each pays, how claims must be submitted and things like that.
When I talk about the need to focus on billing & coding, I’m talking about medical coding training for physicians/providers.
I have a friend who’s been in practice management consulting for 20 plus years. He once told me that medical practice’s call him in so that he can assist them in negotiating better payment from the payers because they believe it is the way to increase revenue for a practice.
Upon reviewing their numbers, my consultant friends often discovers that the doctors in the medical practice are doing a poor job of coding.
By explaining how to document and code properly, he is often able to boost each doctor’s revenue between 20K to 30K dollars. If the practice has four pediatricians, that translates between 80K to 120K more a year merely by learning how to properly document for the work that they are already doing and coding accordingly.
I’m not suggesting, by the way, that a practice should not try to negotiate with payers for better payment. But rather pointing out that in many practices, medical billing and coding training is an overlooked activity that can be can boost the bottom line for a practice.
If you are a provider, and don’t attend coding seminars regularly, start going to at least one coding seminar a year.
By the way, I know many practices have coders and biller that do a lot of the work for the providers as it relates to coding. And that is great.
But a provider that knows how to document a chart properly, to get the most for the work he or she does, goes a long, long way towards the profitability of the practice.
Before you let me go, please select the statement that best describes what you were thinking as you were reading this post:
- I don’t have time for seminars.
- My practice can’t stop seeing patients for a day.
- That coding stuff is overrated.
- I have “people” that do all that coding stuff for me.
- I know everything there is to know about coding.
- I already went last year to a coding seminar, I don’t need to go again this year.
- I only need to know how to code a level III.
- In pediatrics nothing merits more than a level III, what good is it to learn the rest.
- ICD9 is gonna be obsolete. I’m holding out for ICD10
- I didn’t go school to learn medical coding.
… if one or more of these statements (or any variation of) crossed your mind while you were reading this, then let me tell say, that you are the one that needs to attend a coding seminar the most.
- #6 Learning Steps to Budget for Your Medical Practice [Practice Management VideoCast] (pediatricinc.com)
- How Many Billers Should A Medical Practice Employ? (pediatricinc.com)
- #8 Key Metrics We Should Use to Gauge the Financial Health of Our Medical Practice, Part II [Practice Management VideoCast] (pediatricinc.com)