Summer is here: Don’t get burned by medical coding staff shortages

July 12, 2019 / By Stacie Silvia, RHIT, CCS

Summer is a great time to relax and unwind with family and friends, but coding departments can feel overwhelmed with multiple time-off requests. We all want and need some downtime, but who will cover the coding workload and maintain exceptional quality coding?

Think of SPF and how it protects you from the sun. Now, think of an outsourced coding solution as your dedicated SPF (Staffing, Prepare, Flexibility) and how it can protect you from a potential backlog while multiple coders are off at the same time. Staffing during summer months can be difficult, but it does not have to be. With the help of outsourced coding you can enjoy the sun and avoid the burn of staff shortages.  Outsourced coding is typically a full-service solution, offering permanent, backlog or on-demand coding coverage. Most solutions are customizable and include a quality assurance program.  Your outsourced coding solution should only utilize 100% certified coders across all medical specialties. Depending on your access requirements, outsourced coders can begin coding in your proprietary EHR in as early as two days.

Should you determine additional coding resources could help your summer plan, there are some simple things you can do to Prepare. Do you have your coding workflow documented? A step-by-step guide of the basic coding process is helpful both for your staff and to quickly onboard a new coder. The same applies to coding guidelines. Dust them off and make sure they are up to date. Think about communications: Do you have someone on staff that could be your liaison with an outsourced group? The same person could also help communicate within your organization for initial coder access or troubleshooting system issues. These simple steps can make adding supplementary coders easy and painless.

Providing coverage for your staff allows you the Flexibility you need during the summer months or throughout the year.  Your coders are team members that need a break to enjoy family vacations, long weekends or just some general downtime.  You may not always know months in advance when your staff will be out, but outsourced coding allows you the flexibility to adjust coverage as you need it. With little notice, outsourced coders can assist with any coding situation when it is needed most, even if it’s just for a few weeks or months or in an ongoing engagement.  Using an outsourced coding group to provide extra coverage typically allows for around the clock coding, so you can rest at night knowing your coding volume won’t be piling up while you’re not in the office. 

Set your organization up for success by implementing these best practices to prepare for outsourced coding.

Stacie Silvia, RHIT, CCS, is a Client Account Manager with 3M Health Information Systems.

Overcome staff shortages and avoid coding backlogs this summer.