Top 10 Best Practices for Outsourcing Coding Services

Medical Coding Outsourcing

We live in a constantly expanding environment for outsourcing services, and the coding and health information industry is no stranger to outsourcing. Whether it is full department outsourcing, hand-picked silos of outsourcing for specific hard to fill or hard to train services or outsourcing to augment your current staff, utilizing contract labor can prove to be very beneficial and prudent for an organization. This article will discuss the 10 best practices to apply as you embark on your outsourcing journey, specifically related to health information management and outsourcing relationships for coding services.

10 Things For Healthcare Companies To Follow When Outsourcing Medical Coding

  1. First understand your objectives, goals, and expectations and why you want or need to outsource and then as you look to evaluate vendor partners be sure your wants and needs can be aligned with the right outsource partner whether it is cost reduction, staff reduction, standardization, transfer/share risk, fixed cost, gain/increase control, etc. What is your transition plan- phased-in approach or big-bang? Ensure you scale your project with the approach you are looking for and your timeline should be realistic and reflective of the approach.
  2. Allow adequate time for vendor selection process, RFP, contract negotiations. These things take time! Be proactive and plan ahead. All involved parties should have clear communications on the anticipated process and timeline.
  3. Strong executive and senior leadership support will help minimize negative impacts to employee perception and of outsourcing and overall staff morale. A common mistake involved in outsourcing and vendor evaluation, is that it can be kept a secret from employees.
  4. Check vendor references, speak with current customers. Have set questions that you would like to have answered on vendor performance, customer service, quality, key performance indicators, staff turnover, etc.
  5. Once vendor selection has been accomplished, a collaborative and structured approach with distinct goals and well-defined milestones from both sides for the outsourcing project (scope, people, and timeline) will help ensure a smooth transition.
  6. Advanced planning for go-live will help to alleviate start up delays. Nothing can be more frustrating and costly than false starts or slow starts. Ensure you have your facility IT on board with the project to assist with IT Access. This is often an area where delays can occur. Ensure sufficient training documents and policies are provided to vendor partner so a seamless transition can occur.
  7. Conduct regular and frequent progress reviews with your vendor partner and evaluate often, be open and candid. Be proactive to resolve issues, disputes, or dissatisfaction. Do not let concerns fester; this leads to frustration and hindrance of progress or issue resolution.
  8. Have constant and regular communications around quality and productivity. Ensure that quality expectation and reporting frequency of quality and productivity results are defined up front in the planning stages with your vendor partner.
  9. Provide feedback to your vendor partner on facility issues and/or initiatives that may be have an impact on the vendor’s resources. Are you changing EMR’s? System upgrades? Are you implementing a CDI program that would require interaction with the coders and CDI resources? A new physician query process? Are you receiving RAC or other third party payer denials?
  10. Be involved and be hands-on or delegate someone in your HIM team that will be involved and hands on. A successful vendor partnership should collaborative and feel like an extension of your own team.

In closing, hopefully by applying these top ten best practices to your next outsourcing engagement will ensure that your process and start up is a smooth one.

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AHIMA Approved

This program has been approved for continuing education unit(s) (CEUs) for use in fulfilling the continuing education requirements of the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA). Granting of Approved CEUs from AHIMA does not constitute endorsement of the program content or its program provider.