This article reviews HCPro’s 2018 coding productivity survey and reviews data on factors that have affected coder productivity, remote coders, and collaboration between coders and CDI specialists, including charts coded per hour and coding accuracy standards.
Even on a small scale, the implementation of an outpatient clinical documentation improvement (CDI) program can be overwhelming. Review advice from CDI specialists on developing successful outpatient CDI programs that facilitate accurate coding and billing.
Sarah Humbert, RHIA, and Catrena Smith, CCS, CCS-P, CPCO, CPC, CIC, CPC-I, CRC, CHTS-PW, explore three scenarios for onboarding new inpatient coders and provide valuable advice to prepare them for success.
Despite facing potential lawsuits and political opposition, CMS finalized some of its most controversial proposals in the 2019 OPPS final rule by implementing several site-neutral payment policies and 340B drug payment reductions.
It's been more than three years since CMS introduced a subset of modifiers it wants providers to report instead of modifier -59 (distinct procedural service), but they're still optional as barely any new guidance has been released.
Crystal R. Stalter, CPC, CCS-P, CDIP, says that there is still confusion around documenting patient stays to show quality, especially in the inpatient realm. Is it really as simple as documenting conditions to their fullest specificity or does it involve a more complex approach?
The CMS risk adjustment model uses Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCC) to calculate risk scores based on ICD-10 diagnoses. Review HCC coding do’s and don’ts to help your facility manage risk effectively, enhance shared savings, and provide patient-centered care.
Remittance processing and appeals are integral parts of the revenue cycle. When facilities submit a claim to Medicare, the hope is that the claim will be paid in full and in a timely manner, but that does not always happen.
Coding and documentation teams can replicate an organization’s overall denial avoidance and management program by scaling it to the scope of denials for which they are responsible. Lynette Kramer, MA, RHIA , outlines a four-step process that coding teams can use to monitor claim data and establish accountability for denials.
Creating a query and knowing when to query can be complicated, and there are a number of continued training tactics that prove successful for the coder when trying to improve upon physician query practices. This article looks at a few of the official sources that offer query guidance for coders. Note : To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
Coding leadership can assist the chargemaster team by providing input, preparing appeals, and tracking coding-related denials. Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA/CGMA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS , describes how to effectively work with a team of coders to combat continued denials.
Inpatient coding audits need to be tailored to the type of record being reviewed, the time it may take to complete the audit, and any compliance-related issues that may crop up. This article focuses on how coding managers can streamline these aspects to ensure a successful audit. Note : To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
Allen Frady, RN-BSN, CCDS, CCS, CRC, says that defending code assignment against denials requires more than reviewing the denial to determine if the condition was coded and reported according to the coding guidelines; it requires an understanding of payer requirements as well.
A nine-month audit conducted by a CDI specialist at a family practice and internal medicine clinic revealed 1,353 coding errors on physician-coded claims for outpatient office visits. Tammy Trombley, RHIT, CDIP, CCDS , reviews findings from this 2017 audit and discusses implications for risk-adjustment coding.
Continuing with numerous requests for comment in last year’s OPPS proposed rule, CMS is once again asking stakeholders for feedback on a variety of issues for potential future rulemaking. Review OPPS proposals for quality measure changes and policies aimed at improving interoperability and the electronic exchange of information between providers.
Chris Simons, MS, RHIA, details way to improve querying across health information management (HIM), coding, and CDI departments since querying providers is a key strategy for improving documentation. Note : To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
Back in January, I wrote an article regarding E/M codes and the need for changes to the 1995 and 1997 E/M documentation guidelines. In that article, I suggested making E/M codes for office visits solely time-based to simplify the reporting of these very subjective codes. Little did I know that this is what CMS would propose months later.
A common error and audit finding affecting providers is the lack of a physician order or physician signatures on medical documentation. Kimberly A. H. Baker, JD, CPC , reviews CMS guidance for physician signatures on medical documentation.
CMS’ 2019 OPPS proposed rule, released in late July, continues the agency’s efforts to enforce site-neutral payments and reduce drug payments by introducing policies to reduce reimbursement for hospital outpatient clinic visits at off-campus, provider-based departments.
Continuing with numerous specific requests for comment in last year’s OPPS proposed rule, CMS is once again asking stakeholders for feedback on a variety of issues for the 2019 OPPS proposed rule for future potential rulemaking. You may submit comments to the agency until September 24, 2018.
Along with quality measure removals in the 2018 OPPS and MPFS final rules, CMS has continued to propose additional removals in the 2019 proposed rules. In addition, the agency is proposing to add to its ability to remove quality measures in the future.
To succeed in a modern health information management (HIM) environment, coding departments need efficient coding specialists and knowledgeable management to monitor coder performance and provide feedback. Review expert guidance on hiring staff and determining work flow to improve the organizational structure of your coding department.
Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA/CGMA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS , writes that beyond auditing for code assignment, coding reviews also provide an opportunity for you to conduct a thorough compliance evaluation that not only addresses other components of the coding process but also the integrity of the patient’s record. Note : To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
A July 2018 update to the OPPS clarifies that coders can report HCPCS code C9749 for an inherently bilateral procedure with modifiers -73 or -74 to indicate that the procedure was unilateral. Debbie Mackaman, RHIA, CPCO, CCDS, unpacks this seemingly contradictory guidance and addresses implications for coding and billing professionals.
Many HIM directors find that managing the coding team requires a different type of focus than other functions within the department. This may be true because coding professionals have advanced education, prefer a quiet work environment, and require less direction.
Provider documentation must meet required standards to support the level of care provided. Rose Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA/CGMA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS , reviews payer guidelines and medical necessity requirements under Medicare for services performed in the outpatient setting.
Hospital systems need to be watchful for CMS proposals that will impact payment for drugs and drug therapies in 2019 and beyond. Jugna Shah, MPH, reviews the potential implications of recent CMS actions, such as the publication of the 2019 IPPS proposed rule and the overhaul of 340B drug payment program.
Predicting CMS policies can be a foolhardy exercise, especially with a relatively new administration and frequent turnover at the highest levels of HHS over the last year. But it’s safe to say drug payment policy has been and will continue to be a focus of the current regime.
Healthcare providers are often confused about what a commercial or managed care payer would want in order to approve the claim. Much of this confusion comes from the timing of requirements to ensure reimbursement.
Coders are on the front lines of claim submission and in a good position to foster compliance. Learn strategies to prevent fraud and abuse and encourage accurate documentation and billing within your outpatient facility. Note : To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
Do you question how your compensation and work responsibilities compare to those reported by coders across the country? To see how you stack up, review results from JustCoding’s 2017 Coder Salary Survey . Note : To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
When planning to implement a coding auditing program, the type of reviews, focus areas, and review frequency must all be taken into consideration. Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA/CGMA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS , details how to conduct an effective coding audit and ensure compliance with documentation requirements.
A coding audit may be conducted by internal staff or external entities, typically representing the insurers paying for the care. When planning to implement a coding auditing program, the type of reviews, focus areas, and review frequency must all be taken into consideration.
CMS recently released MLN Matters SE18001 to provide healthcare practitioners with instructions and coding guidance for specimen validity when performed and billed in combination with drug testing. The article was issued to remind laboratories and other providers performing urine drug testing that specimen validity testing (SVT) is not separately billable.
Telehealth services continue to expand and claims for these services may already be under scrutiny by Medicare contractors. Debbie Mackaman, RHIA, CPCO, CCDS, writes about the differences between originating site and distant site services in addition to coding, billing, and reimbursement for telehealth services.
Danielle Richmond says that while inpatient coder shortages are nowhere near what they were with ICD-9-CM, new challenges have emerged. This article shares important advice for any managers trying to improve their coder recruitment and hiring process.
The fiscal year (FY) 2018 ICD-10-CM changes have now been active for several months. Though the volume of new codes is relatively small compared to previous updates, the impact on reimbursement has the potential to be quite large.
Medical necessity documentation, or lack thereof, is one of the most common reasons for claim denials. This article describes how medical necessity impacts third-party payers and those who work in billing and reimbursement services.
In the current healthcare climate, the issue of medical necessity documentation, or lack thereof, is one of the most common reasons for claim denials. For a service to be considered medically necessary (by a third-party payer), it must be considered a reasonable and necessary service to diagnose and/or treat a patient’s current and/or chronic medical condition.
Shannon E. McCall, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPC, CPC-I, CEMC, CRC, CCDS , writes about discussions at the AMA CPT Symposium that could impact coders, including the need for updates to CMS’ E/M Documentation Guidelines and how medical decision making is used as a key component for E/M reporting.
Bundled Payments for Care Improvement Advanced, a new voluntary bundled payment model launched by CMS in January, includes 32 clinical episodes encompassing both inpatient admissions and outpatient procedures. Yvette DeVay, MHA, CPC, CPMA, CIC, CPC-I , writes about participation criteria, payment calculations, and quality measures for this program.
In recent years, numerous pieces of legislation have been passed to limit healthcare spending, combat losses due to fraud, and ensure that dollars are being spent on quality care. Adrienne Commeree, CPC, CPMA, CCS, CEMC, CPIP , describes different watchdog programs created to promote billing compliance and quality of care.
Creating a query and knowing when to query can be complicated, and there are a number of training tactics that can prove successful for coders when trying to improve upon physician query practices. For this article, let’s take a look at when coders should query and when it’s appropriate for them to cite clinical evidence. Note : To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
The advancement of accurate and compliant coding efforts brings unique challenges. As benevolent as a health information management (HIM) department’s mission may seem to be, for many facilities, the focus of physician queries continues to be “optimizing” information in the medical record to increase reimbursement.
In this article, Valerie A. Rinkle, MPA, offers guidance regarding the 340B drug discount program. She provides tips for accurate documentation of drug purchases and reviews frequently asked questions about billing for 340B-acquired drugs in 2018.
Complying with healthcare regulations within a coding department or physician practice involves promoting a positive attitude toward activities such as self-monitoring and staying up-to-date with healthcare regulations. Follow these steps to adhere to sound business ethics and set expectations for behavior across an organization. Note: To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
If ICD-10-CM/PCS is used to its full potential, it will provide greater detail and a more accurate depiction of patient severity. This level of detail is expected to provide more information about the relationship between a provider’s performance and the patient’s condition.
CMS' 340B FAQ reviews modifiers -JG (drug or biological acquired with 340B drug pricing program discount) and -TB (drug or biological acquired with 340B drug pricing program discount, reported for informational purposes) and requires 340B hospitals to report modifiers even on drugs that are not subject to the discount policy.
The improper payment rate for hospital outpatient services was 5.4%, accounting for 7.5% of the Medicare Fee-For-Service improper payment rate, according to 2016 Medicare Fee-for-Service Improper Payments Report.
When faced with a claim denial, providers need to understand what is being denied and when an appeal is appropriate. This article outlines basic steps providers need to take before composing an appeal for a claim denial and helpful tips for successfully navigating through the appeals process.
Creating a query can be complicated, and there are a number of continued training tactics that prove successful for the coder when trying to improve upon physician query practices. This article takes a look at how improving a coder’s knowledge of principal and secondary diagnosis selection can produce a more effective physician query. Note: To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
HCCs aren’t new, but for many organizations, their impact hasn’t been apparent until recently. Organizations must educate staff on HCCs to ensure success under reimbursement methodologies such as the Quality Payment Program and Merit-based Incentive Payment System reimbursement.
Hiring top-notch inpatient coders: Is it good luck, great karma, or the power of prayer? Many coding managers say it takes all three to recruit high-quality, experienced medical record coders post-ICD-10.
CMS’ policy in the 2018 OPPS final rule to cut reimbursement for drugs purchased through the 340B drug discount program by nearly 30%, accounting for the decrease from average sales price plus 6% to minus 22.5%, is getting a lot of attention from the provider community—and with good reason.
While the 2018 OPPS final rule may be controversial for its payment cuts to drugs purchased through the 340B drug discount program, it contains several provisions supported by hospitals and other stakeholders.
A new private payer rate-based Clinical Laboratory Fee Schedule (CLFS) system is estimated to drastically reduce Medicare Part B lab payments in 2018. Valerie A. Rinkle, MPA, details how this revision will impact providers in outpatient settings and payers tied to the Medicare CLFS.
More and more, hospitals are experiencing a shift of services from inpatient to outpatient settings. In this article, Laura Jacquin, RN, MBA , describes common challenges healthcare workers face when providing comprehensive documentation for services across the care continuum.
In July, Utah pain doctor Jahan Imani, MD, and Intermountain Medical Management, P.C., entered into a nearly $400,000 settlement with the OIG to resolve allegations that Imani’s practice submitted false or fraudulent claims due to improper modifier use for payment by improperly using modifier -59 with HCPCS code G0431.
Patient care continues to move from the inpatient setting to outpatient. With this change, the challenge of securing comprehensive documentation that articulates the services rendered and the patient care provided now needs to extend across the care continuum.
Root cause analysis of edits and an understanding of the relationship between the chargemaster and HIM/coding must be supported by overarching principles and best practices for edit management. Processes should be built around the timing of edits, applying edits across payers, and denial management.
You may find significant changes to E/M reporting in the near future, including a pivot away from two key elements — history and physical exam — that largely determine a given level of service for your most common patient encounters.
CMS wants your thoughts on its 2018 OPPS proposed changes. In various places in the proposed rule, CMS specifically asks providers to comment on the proposals. You may submit comments to the agency until September 11, 2017.
Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS , explains that as a coding manager, whether your inpatient team is on-site, off-site, or remote, creating the appropriate environment and selecting proper locations are key to any successful team. Note: To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
Every now and then, the HCPro Boot Camp instructors are asked similar questions on a specific billing issue from students and clients across the country. The old saying “there must be something in the water” often holds true, and it does in this case, especially regarding recent OIG audits.
In late June, CMS released a major proposed rule that hospitals will need to pay attention to—and no, I don’t mean to say that CMS released the CY 2018 OPPS proposed rule early, though we’ve thought that might happen since it’s been at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for several months.
As CMS and third-party payers have looked for ways to treat patients in the outpatient setting and reduce inpatient volumes, CMS has used the 2-midnight rule, in addition to other methods, to treat patients as outpatients or in observation whenever possible.
In today’s virtual environment, with its focus on flexible schedules, organizing an inpatient coding team requires consideration of time zones, team member skills, volume of work, and claim-processing schedules. Note: To access this free article, make sure you first register here if you do not have a paid subscription.
The Ochsner Health System in Louisiana revolutionized the way its clinical documentation excellence (CDE) team captures annual hierarchical condition categories for all patients across its vast system. Now, Ochsner can serve as a case study to educate others on how to create an outpatient focus on CDI in an increasingly risk-adjusted world.
There is an extensive list of coverage requirements that must be met to furnish outpatient services to Medicare beneficiaries. Gina M. Reese, RN, JD, CPHRM , discusses some of the trickier issues that facilities will need to audit more carefully while monitoring for compliance in provider-based departments.
There is an extensive list of coverage requirements that must be met to furnish outpatient services to Medicare beneficiaries. Hospitals may find that certain coverage requirements for therapeutic and diagnostic service are more difficult to meet than others, especially in off-campus provider-based departments.
Coding plays a large role in claims and therefore is a key factor in reimbursement compliance. As such, coders have a responsibility to be as accurate and up-to-date on coding practices as possible. Rose T. Dunn, MBA, RHIA, CPA, FACHE, FHFMA, CHPS , explores some of the organizations and regulatory bodies available to assist coders.
Traditionally, the OPPS rulemaking cycle has been the main vehicle for changes to outpatient coding and billing regulations and policy that hospitals need to pay attention to. But increasingly, CMS has been introducing or discussing changes relevant to outpatient hospitals beyond the scope of the OPPS rules.
HCCs are the basis for risk adjustments for reimbursement models like Medicare Advantage, accountable care organizations, and other value-based purchasing measures such as Medicare Spending Per Beneficiary. Poor understanding and application of HCCs mean that a hospital’s patients may be much sicker in reality than they appear to be on paper, and that will hit reimbursement hard.
Accurate clinical documentation is the bedrock of the legal medical record, billing, and coding. It is also the most complex and vulnerable part of revenue cycle because independent providers must document according to intricate and sometimes vague rules.
Medicare recently published revisions to its appeals process, focusing on the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) level of appeal. These revisions were published in the Federal Register in the form of final regulations on January 17, 2017, and became effective March 20.
The 2017 calendar year marks the beginning of a new approach to physician payment through the Quality Payment Program (QPP), an initiative created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act to revise the physician payment system previously updated through the Sustainable Growth Rate.
With a new year underway, providers likely need to get a handle on some key new modifiers, as well as important changes to an existing modifier and the deletion of a modifier that previously raised a lot of questions and operational concerns.
The intersection of CMS’ packaged payment policy and the increasing volume of Medically Unlikely Edits (MUE) can be likened to a car crash waiting to happen. Hospitals are having valid, medically necessary claim lines denied – including charges and units below MUE limits. Providers can help stop the crash by ensuring their claims, CPT coding, medical necessity, and the units are all correct.
As OPPS packaging has increased, providers may be less likely to appeal claims for certain denied charges based on medically unlikely edits, since it would not increase payments. However, providers should consider appeals when services are medically necessary and appropriate, as CMS bases future payment rates on accepted claims.