Ongoing Coding Education

Why Coding Update Education is Important and the Benefits

C. Matheson, RHIA, CCS Coding Leave a Comment

Do you ever feel like by the time your organization and coders get used to one regulation, the rules change?  These frequent changes and the rapid pace of healthcare technology and trends make it critically important to ensure compliance and ongoing training and education is provided for coding professionals.

 Judging from the sheer volume of codes can be mind-boggling. There are well over 72,000 ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes and over 77,000 ICD-10-PCS codes, and CPT comes in well above 10,000 codes. 

Every year governing bodies issue new, revised, and deleted codes to the code sets.  In addition to the annual updates, there are also quarterly updates and advice. 

There are critical advantages to developing an organized and thought-out approach to ongoing coder education and development. A coder’s professional growth and development can pay dividends back to an organization.  Here are a few benefits:

  • Improve employee retention 
  • Enhance the quality of coding
  • Increase coding accuracy
  • Reduce denials

By investing in ongoing education updates, this will allow healthcare organizations to more easily cross-train coders to other types of coding within the organization. Thus often reducing or eliminating the need to hire or contract additional staff.

Ongoing education can provide cost reductions on the backend or down the road.  For organizations that provide continuing education and training can be a considerable advantage for coder recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction. With a predominantly remote coding workforce, ongoing education updates using remote webinars provide cost savings for organizations to not lose production time.

Enrolling in a program for monthly or quarterly coding education ensures that coders are receiving the most up to date and current coding information to stay abreast of industry changes and regulations. 

By providing ongoing coding education ensures that coders are earning continuing education units (CEUs) to keep their credentials current.  The amount of CEUs required on an annual basis depends on several factors, such as the type and number of certifications an individual has and the professional association that issues the certification.

Regular coder education updates, coupled with ongoing coding audits, will ensure organizations remain compliant with coding and billing practices. This proactive approach will increase coding accuracy and quality while decreasing denials.

With the expanding focus on the quality of care impacting payments. It is not only important to get the codes assigned to meet the turnaround time. The codes have to be the most complete meeting quality standards.   

Most organizations target a coding accuracy of at least 95%, yet really want coding to be accurate as possible to avoid denials. Education empowers the team with knowledge. Combining education with periodic coding assessments of your team helps ensure coding teams are headed to 98% accuracy goal.  

In the latest studies, the reworking of claim denials cost $118 per claim. While not all denials are coding, related; however, a  coder with current knowledge can make a big impact to ensure that charts are coded to the highest level of specificity and accurate the first time.  Thus the end result will help reduce denials, avoid the rework cost and avoid payment delays.

Staying compliant with frequent changes to coding rules and regulations is one of many critical reasons to develop an ongoing education program.  A little investment can go a long way to keeping up with the fast-paced world healthcare organizations and coders are faced with.

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