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The Secret to Coding Accuracy Is In The Training Tools

Posted on September 24, 2018 I Written By

The following is a guest blog post by Scot Nemchik, Vice President of Coding Education and Auditing at Ciox.

Accurate coding has become more important to healthcare organizations and more critical to their bottom lines than ever before. While the traditional value of coding to an organization was simply in its effect on timely reimbursement, outside entities like IBM Watson Health and the U.S. News & World Report, among many others, are today utilizing the same broader organizational coding data to assess outcomes, provide company profiles, drive news, assign ratings and rankings, and determine value in the healthcare organizations they assess.

Because the impact of accurate coding in the modern era extends beyond reimbursement into reputation, perception, and new business development capabilities, it’s clear that the stakes have been raised for most organizations. With added importance assigned to coding accuracy, many of these companies are today assessing how to drive greater coding accuracy within their organization. Yet, the methodologies by which organizations assess new hires for coding capabilities, and by which they train and enhance their existing workforce, are largely unchanged in the last decade or more.

Coding is an industry that requires specialized skills, and so it is important for several reasons to make quality hires at the onset. It is far more profitable for an organization to retain its coders, which requires better upfront assessment. A study from the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) on employee retention suggests that the cost to an organization in replacing an employee is between 50 and 75 percent of their salary. In an industry like medical coding, better screening measures must be in place to get the right people involved on the team the first time.

One of the primary ways companies can look to achieve better candidate hires is by moving away from simple multiple-choice assessments of coding skill during the screening process, as those assessments are not as predictive of coding aptitude as modern measures. A more effective approach is achieved through the use of platform-based assessment techniques, in which the candidate can respond to hypothetical medical reports with actual codes, providing more meaningful insight into coding aptitude.

Those same training platforms also serve as a solution for companies looking to bolster the accuracy of their existing coding teams. Traditionally, organizations have relied heavily on passive forms of training (e.g., webinars, LMS assignments) to convey important coding instruction, hoping that instruction is put into practice in the daily work settings. Today, through active, platform-based training, the results are far more scalable and effective.

Coders Learn by Coding

By training in an active coding learning environment, coders learn by doing, a proven method which accelerates learning and optimizes retention. Through a hands-on learning approach, coders can put their skills to the test and learn from any mistakes in real time.

Platform learning provides not only pre-hire testing, but also baseline performance assessment. By giving new hires and existing teams alike the same metric tests, organizations can identify their best assets. Additionally, platforms for coding training offer effective and efficient cross-training, allowing organizations to diversify the capabilities of their coders and cross-pollinate or backfill specific coding teams for more flexibility. Beyond cross training, existing teams benefit from the development of their assets through ongoing education. Coding is a dynamic field with annual changes, and access to the newest codes and guidelines is critical. A comprehensive learning platform offers all of these capabilities and measurements in real-time.

As companies look for ways to improve the accuracy of their coding staff, whether through new hires or incremental improvements to existing teams, transitioning to a platform-based training and assessment environment, with a host of experiential and measurement capabilities, can provide the solution.

About Ciox
Ciox, a health technology company and proud sponsor of Healthcare Scene, is dedicated to significantly improving U.S. health outcomes by transforming clinical data into actionable insights. Combined with an unmatched network offering ubiquitous access to healthcare data, Ciox’s expertise, relationships, technology and scale allow for the extraction of insights from structured and unstructured clinical data to create value for healthcare stakeholders. Through its HealthSource technology platform, which includes solutions for data acquisition, release of information, clinical coding, data abstraction, and analytics, Ciox helps clients securely and consistently solve the last mile challenges in clinical interoperability. Ciox improves data management and sharing by modernizing workflows and increasing the accuracy and flow of information, while providing transparency across the healthcare ecosystem and helping clients manage disparate medical records. Learn more at

Sorry Coders, It’s Not All About You – 7 Takeaways from #AHIMACon13

Posted on November 1, 2013 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

I am finally decompressing from the AHIMA conference held earlier this week in my hometown of Atlanta. Conferences that last more than a day tend to leave me with great insight into the inner workings of healthcare and inspiration for several blog posts. An unfortunate side effect is the mountain of email and suggested industry reading that piles up. Another is feeling pulled in two different directions. As I lamented to several other attendees, it’s hard to dedicate yourself to early sessions and late networking events when you know the family is waiting for you at home.

Despite my inability to catch the early riser sessions, I spent a solid three days at AHIMA attending sessions, walking the show floor and catching up with colleagues in the press room. I came away with a greater understanding of the challenges providers (and vendors) are facing in the transition to ICD-10, as well as insight into how HIM professionals as a whole feel about embracing digital/mobile/connected health in a time (present and future) of heightened patient engagement.

My Takeaways:

1. Not only do coders need to know how to code in ICD-10, but they should also have more contextual knowledge of anatomy and procedures than ever before. Coding veteran Gerri Walk, Senior Coding Manager and AHIMA-Approved ICD-10 trainer at HRS, tells me that to be truly successful in ICD-10, coders can’t just memorize a book. They also must have extensive knowledge of anatomy and be really good at turning what a physician says into the correct code.

2. Coders are so overwhelmed with studying and training for the ICD-10 switch that they don’t have time to think about the bigger financial picture and coding-related consequences. Codes obviously affect reimbursement. The wrong code can lead to audits, appeals and lots of red tape that physicians – particularly those in smaller practices or smaller hospitals – can’t afford. I did not get the feeling that these kinds of consequences are being conveyed at ICD-10 bootcamps and training sessions, which is a pity. This is an assumption on my part, but it seems to me that coders might be more diligent in their coding if they had a real sense of the financial impact their codes have on their organization.

3. Experienced coders only, please. If you’re a recent graduate, you’re likely out of luck. Providers, like the women I spoke with at the Carilion Clinic, want coders with a lot of experience. They may ultimately shoot themselves in the foot, however, by not taking on newer coding professionals. Experienced coders will soon be harder to come by (some are retiring to avoid the ICD-10 transition). Providers might want to seriously consider hiring new grads and turning them into homegrown coding talent. Kayce Dover of recruitment firm HIM Connections tells me she is starting to see more and more of this.

4. Sorry coders, it’s not ALL about you. Physicians’ workflows will take a big hit when ICD-10 kicks into gear thanks to extra interruptions (er, communication) from coding staff. As Kerry Martin, CEO of VitalWare told me, coders will have to distinguish between what a physician says or writes about a procedure, and what a physician actually does during that procedure. (I get the feeling that coders may not be thrilled about having to second-guess physicians.)

5. Many coders are worried their jobs will be replaced by artificial intelligence and other technologies not even off the drawing board yet. Their worries are unfounded, according to Shiny George, Senior Director of HIM at Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals. She noted in her presentation on HIM in 2020 that their skill sets will still be needed, but will likely be used in different ways with new tools.

6. And speaking of new tools … the HIM profession seems ready and willing to embrace digital / connected health tools, as evidenced by their official endorsement of the Blue Button initiative. Consumer health and wellness apps were mentioned in nearly every session I attended. Patient and consumer engagement in healthcare via mobile devices is definitely on their radar, and they are well aware of the implications it will have on their profession. As George mentioned, HIM should not shy away from this trend, but should seek to embrace it, capturing and interpreting patient data in order to improve quality outcomes.

7. Gender equality is definitely a priority for female HIM professionals when it comes to achieving leadership positions. I attended several sessions on this topic, and will offer insight specific to this takeaway in next week’s post.

Tips for Physicians to Improve Their EHR Documentation for Coding

Posted on February 1, 2013 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

During the last AHIMA, I sat down with Dr. Jon Elion, Founder and CEO of ChartWise Medical Systems and asked him about how a physician can improve their EHR documentation so that it matches the needs of medical coders better. In the following video, he offers a couple simple tips on how a physician can do this easily.

Considering ICD-10 is just around the corner, I thought many would find these tips interesting and useful.