A healthcare facility’s revenue cycle is key to its financial success. A properly functioning revenue cycle is the foundation upon which a facility rests, and it begins with billing and claim reimbursement — which in turn rely on proper documentation and accurate coding. Is your practice keeping up with coding and technology advances? What can you do to rev up your facility’s revenue cycle?
Medical documentation and accurate coding are essential components of a healthy revenue cycle. Errors and inefficiency slow the entire process, and your cash flow takes the hit. To keep your revenue cycle running smoothly, coders must navigate common obstacles, including:
- Limited budgets for sufficient coding staff.
- Constantly changing medical billing codes.
- Frequent changes in medical procedures, provider reimbursement guidelines, and compliance regulations.
- Inconsistent and/or disparate resources.
- Unfamiliar medical specialties and terminology.
- Gathering and linking documentation for third-party auditors.
- Maintaining accuracy standards to avoid costly coding errors.
Whether your practice employs one coder or a dozen, you can streamline your billing operations. Even small changes can make a big difference in your cash flow. Begin your streamlining efforts with a thorough examination of your current processes and procedures. Look for inefficiencies and target areas for improvement. When you’ve gathered all the pertinent information, make a detailed plan for making changes.
Effective refinements may be as simple as improving coders’ workspaces. Coding requires a high degree of concentration and focus, so the ideal work environment is quiet and free from distractions. Avoid frequent interruptions and limit non-coding tasks. Improve efficiency and accuracy by providing a cheat sheet with codes common to your practice’s providers and payers. Be sure to update it frequently to account for changing medical codes.
Mistakes are costly and time-consuming. Employ a third-party auditor for regular checkups on your codes and processes. If you’ve built up a backlog of documentation, use a third-party coding company to supplement your in-house team. And moving forward, consider introducing specialized coding technology.
Technology has changed almost every aspect of modern life, so technology related changes to the healthcare revenue cycle should come as no surprise. Electronic health records (EHR) are phasing out paper documentation — saving time and helping medical practices easily store, search, and analyze data.
Billing and coding also benefit from technology. Auditing software ensures accuracy, and computer assisted coding (CAC) software scans medical documentation to assign appropriate medical codes. CAC software is revolutionary in terms of efficiency, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for coders. Coding professionals are still necessary for verifying accuracy, context, and the inclusion of all pertinent information.
CAC is most often used for routine procedures, but coders are still necessary for rare and more complex situations. CAC increases productivity and the consistent application of accurate codes in compliance with regulations. Auditing and CAC technology are the most effective tools for streamlining your facility’s revenue cycle and improving its cash flow.
Before you invest in a CAC solution, research vendors to find one that matches your requirements. You can also employ a third-party coding company with proven solutions. Contact TruBridge for help streamlining your medical billing practices and revving up your revenue cycle.
Written by Vanessa Brumfield
TruBridge Director of Coding