Change is a good thing, right?

Jan. 19, 2018 / By Karla VonEschen, MS, CPC, CPMA

We all know change in the healthcare field is a necessity for growth and improvement, but is change always a good thing? I’m constantly amazed at how far we’ve come since I began my healthcare career in the early 1990s. In the 20+ years I’ve worked in this field, medical coding has changed, technology has changed, how medical claims are coded and processed has changed, and this is just an initial list as I clear the cobwebs from my mind. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and think back about 20 years. Consider this:

  • The world wide web was brand new and not commonly used in healthcare settings.
  • Claims were submitted on paper and sent to insurance companies via the USPS for manual processing.
  • ICD-9-CM diagnosis codes were in place and we had about 3,000 codes that could be used.
  • Patients used to have to call their physician office or insurance company for claim status.
  • The concept of EHRs was very new.
  • Computer-assisted coding was not used and all coding was done by a human coder.

Fast forward to 2018 and things look very different:

  • Most of us can’t do our jobs without use of the web, and we wouldn’t want to.
  • Medical claims are sent electronically for faster processing and payment.
  • ICD-10-CM is now in place and coders have 80,000 plus diagnosis codes to choose from.
  • Patients now have the option to check the status of a claim online.
  • EHRs are common and necessary for better patient care.
  • Coders have help coding charts with the use of computer-assisted coding.

So, back to my original question about whether all of this change in the world of health care is a good thing. The answer always depends on the individual and what your role is in the healthcare field, but in my opinion, change is not only a necessity, but brings great opportunity even if it’s painful. In the end patients receive better care and the process for medical coding and claims submission is more streamlined for accurate and timely payment. To quote Charles Kettering, “The world hates change, yet it’s the only thing that has brought progress.”

Karla Voneschen is a coding analyst at 3M Health Information Systems.