The compensation of your healthcare organization is contingent on accurate and timely medical coding and submission of medical claims. When done in-house, however, it can be complicated, time-consuming, and costly. Many practices are considering outsource medical billing and coding because of these issues.
Any healthcare organization must decide whether to build an in-house medical coding team or outsource their coding to a third-party coding specialist. Working with outside coding professionals is usually the best option due to the benefits this approach provides. Here are some reasons why you should consider outsourcing medical coding.
What Is Medical Coding Outsourced or Remote?
Instead of completing your coding work in-house, you contract it out to a third-party coding company. The coding company will be responsible for all or most of the work related to your medical coding needs, depending on your agreement. The third-party firm is also in charge of keeping its employees up to date on the latest coding skills and requirements. While many medical coders work remotely, you can also hire coders to come into your office and work for you.
A physician who outsources their coding will send the medical charts to the company after the procedure is completed. The coders will read the charts, finish the coding, and return them to the practice.
Medical coding audits and other services like medical record review, research support, and clinical documentation improvement may also be provided by outsourced medical coding agencies.
You can do your medical coding in-house as an alternative to outsourcing it. Physicians and other medical professionals may perform their own coding in some organizations. Others may create an in-house team of medical coders to handle all or most of their coding.
The Advantages of Medical Coding Outsourcing
There are numerous benefits to outsourcing your medical coding to a professional. H
Updates to coding systems, regulations and best practices are required of medical coders. They must also maintain certifications and fulfill continuing education requirements. They can also use their websites, blogs, email lists, webinars, seminars, and other resources to keep up with updates from government agencies, healthcare organizations, and other organizations.
Maintaining certifications and updates takes a significant amount of time. A major update will occasionally occur, resulting in a significant change in medical coding. For example, the introduction of ICD 10 resulted in a significant increase in the number of codes. ICD-10-PCS has roughly 19 times the number of procedure codes as ICD-9-CM, volume 3, and ICD-10-CM has roughly five times the number of diagnosis codes.
You won’t have to worry about these requirements if you work with third-party medical coding specialists. These issues will be handled by medical coding outsourcing companies, and you can rest assured that the coders working on your charts are up to date on their certifications, skills, and knowledge.
Staffing Levels That Remain Consistent
You rely on your in-house coding team for all of your coding requirements if you have one. When you’re working with only your team, it’s difficult to adjust to changing circumstances. Your in-house team’s capacity may be exceeded by the volume of coding that needs to be completed. Your team may be short-staffed due to a vacation, illness, or even the resignation of one of your coders. Backlogs in coding work and payment delays may result as a result.
In many cases, outsourcing your medical coding is less expensive than hiring and maintaining a team of coders in-house. Medical coders are expensive to hire, especially those with specializations and advanced skills. You can hire top-notch coders at a lower cost by outsourcing.
A medical coder’s average annual salary, according to the AAPC, is $52,411. Certified coders and those with more experience can expect to earn more money. Coders with certifications such as Certified Professional Medical Auditor, Certified Documentation Expert Outpatient, and Certified Physician Practice Manager earn an average of $64,000 per year.
Other costs include taxes paid by your employer and benefits such as health insurance, retirement benefits, and paid time off. These expenses will account for about 35% of a coder’s salary. You’ll also have intangible costs like hiring, training, supervising, licensing, and insurance, as well as tangible costs like office space and supplies. You should also factor in the opportunity costs of hiring, training, managing, and otherwise investing in your internal coding team.
When you contract out for medical coding services, the company you hire is responsible for all of these costs. They can typically provide these services to practices for less than it would cost the practices to conduct all medical coding themselves because they operate on a larger scale, have experience with medical coding, and have coding as their primary focus.
You can conduct your own analysis to determine the most cost-effective option for you because conditions differ between practices. Outsourcing your coding to a specialist is often the most cost-effective option.
Beyond the costs, hiring medical coders can be difficult. A shortage of qualified medical coders exists right now. This is partly due to the IDC 10, which decreased coder productivity by requiring them to learn a new system. The implementation of ICD 10 resulted in a large number of retirements, and more are expected soon, given that the average age of a medical coder is 54.
Finding a qualified coder with experience in a specific specialty becomes even more difficult. It’s possible that there aren’t enough medical coders in your area who meet your needs. Medical coder salaries are also rising as a result of the shortage.
You will always have a pool of coders available if you outsource your coding. Medical billing and coding companies that operate remotely can hire coders from all over the world, giving them a larger pool of candidates from which to choose. Even if you require a specific specialization, the coding company you work with will have coders available who meet your requirements.
More time for essential tasks
Medical coding takes time and resources away from other activities when done in-house. This is especially true if physicians do their own coding, but it also takes time and resources to train and manage an in-house team. Doing your own medical coding has a significant opportunity cost.
You can devote more time to your core activities by outsourcing your coding. This means that your staff will have more time to focus on patients, which will help to improve care quality. You’ll still get accurate coding and timely compensation when you work with a reputable coding company, but you won’t have to take time away from your core practice to achieve those results.
Scalability and flexibility
When compared to hiring an in-house team, working with a contract medical coding company gives you more flexibility and scalability. You have a set number of coders on an internal team. It takes a long time to hire new employees.
However, outsourcing gives you access to a large pool of coding experts. You can scale your team up or down almost instantly with this access. If you have an unusually high volume of work one day, the coding company can assign more employees to finish it so you don’t have to wait for claims to be submitted or payments to be made. You can scale up your coding capacity more permanently as your practice grows over time with minimal effort.
If you use an outsourced medical coding company, you’ll have access to coders with various specialties and certifications. If you require coding for a specialized medical service that you are unfamiliar with, the company will have a coder on staff who has the necessary knowledge.
When you work with a coding specialist, you can rest assured that you’ll receive consistent quality and accuracy. We have a large team of skilled coders and years of experience with medical coding. Every year, we code and audit more than 3 million medical records for the Army, Navy, and Air Force, with accuracy rates of 95% or higher.
Because of the flexibility that a medical coding outsourcing company can provide, you can rest assured that the quality will remain consistent even as the volume of records grows. You also don’t have to be concerned about decreasing levels of accuracy and quality as a result of reduced staffing on certain days or changes in the environment.
Your coding company should be able to provide you with detailed records and performance reports on your medical billing. These reports may be provided automatically or upon request. This gives you a clear picture of your coding and billing, allowing you to get a better understanding of how your practice works. Another advantage to consider when deciding whether to hire or outsource medical coding professionals is this benefit.
Compliance and Security
All healthcare organizations are concerned about security and regulatory compliance. To protect against data loss and other cyber incidents in medical coding and billing, you must have strong data security and disaster recovery measures in place. You must also ensure that HIPAA and other regulations are followed.
A professional coding firm will be aware of your coding needs’ security and compliance concerns. While you should always take appropriate precautions on your end, you can rest assured that your coding firm is doing the same.