The case for coding classes

October 9, 2009

An extraordinary number of physicians fail to stay current in their knowledge of coding, resulting in reduced reimbursement or delayed and denied claims.

Q: What's the most cost-effective improvement I can make to increase income?

A: The most cost-effective improvement is usually in improving your coding. An extraordinary number of physicians fail to stay current in their knowledge of coding, resulting in reduced reimbursement or delayed and denied claims. Many physicians purposefully undercode out of fear of penalties for overcoding or unbundling. Others leave coding to their support staff-an inappropriate approach virtually guaranteed to result in errors and undercoding, as staff typically do not know what actually occurred between the physician and the patient in the exam room. Other income is lost under capitation by miscoding elective services or carve-outs, or lack of awareness of coding for supplies and drugs, resulting in those factors inappropriately being bundled into the cap rate. An investment of $1,000 and 8 to 10 hours in coding classes can easily yield $10,000 to $50,000 or more in higher income, each and every year.

Medical Economics Consultant Keith Borglum, CHBC of Professional Management and Marketing, has been a licensed practice broker, appraiser, author, and management consultant to physicians for more than 25 years, is based in Santa Rosa, California, and practices nationally. Send your practice management questions to mepractice@advanstar.com