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Are you looking to either add or replace a coder this year? You’re not alone. Most practices expect to hire a new coder within the next 6 months to a year. As revenue cycle workloads increase, managers seek to meet the ever growing demands by adding coders to their team. This will prove to be challenging. Smart practices will realize that hiring more coding staff is not the best long-term solution. Leverage your current coding staff to increase productivity and outcomes over time.

The Need For More Coders

Most healthcare organizations are finding that they no longer have the capacity to keep up with the demands of their revenue cycle. To fix this problem, they are hiring more coding staff to take on the extra work.

Not only that, but coder turnover has increased. Many practices find themselves with holes in their coding team that they need to quickly replace. This is why there is a greater demand in the market for good coders.

The increase in revenue cycle work is the main problem causing practices to hire more coders. This increase in revenue cycle work is due to several factors: prior authorizations, risk adjusted coding, and patient AR as a result of higher deductible health plans. All this piled on to an already demanding workload of documenting and coding charges, submitting claims, and denial management can make any coder’s head spin.

Coder Competition

If you are looking to hire a new coder, know that competition is fierce, and coder turnover will impact you. For one thing, the unemployment rate is lower than ever at a mere 4%. This means that the coders you are seeking most likely already have a full time job. If you are in the market for a new coder, you will be recruiting them from a competing practice. It will require a compelling enough offer to draw them out.

Not only do all of the best coder candidates already have jobs, but the number of coding jobs are increasing. The¬†Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the number of jobs for coders and billers to increase by 13% by 2026. Hospitals, ASC’s, and outsourced revenue cycle management companies are competing for the same coders.

Competition for top coders is fierce, and most practices just don’t have the resources it takes to win over those top coders. It would be unwise to hire just anyone. After all, coding staff can make or break the entire financial situation of your practice.

The Bottom Line

It is extremely difficult in today’s market to find, recruit, hire, and train a new coder, yet most healthcare organizations plan to do just that this year. What most practices are not trying to do is find ways to leverage the coders they already have to meet the new revenue cycle demands they are facing.

A Better Solution: Leverage Current Coding Staff

The creative solution that competing practices may not consider is leveraging the current coders you already have. The great thing about this strategy is that you cut out all the time and costs associated with finding, recruiting, and training a new hire.

How do you leverage your current coding staff? This is the question that top-performing practices will consider. There are four steps you can take to leverage your current coders and avoid the hassle of hiring new staff.

1. Use Analytics For Insight Into Coder Productivity

In order to wisely manage your coding staff, the first step is better insight into their productivity and process. The way to achieve this insight is with revenue cycle analytics. Many practices do not utilize analytics in their revenue cycle, and they are managing their revenue cycle staff blindly. Other have analytics, but it only reflects the outcomes of the revenue cycle, not the processes on the inside. Learn more about our Advanced Revenue Cycle Analytics here.

2. Discover Which Coders are Most Productive & Why

With analytics, you should be able to see and compare the productivity of your coders. We track coder productivity by measuring the number of encounters a coder can process per hour. With a combination of best practices and automation, our superstar coders can process up to 140 encounters per hour.

Once you have identified your most productive coders, the goal is to find out what they are doing that makes them so productive. One habit of superstar coders is coding on an exception-only basis. These coders trust technology to catch mistakes, and they don’t spend extra time reviewing clean encounters. This saves time and increases productivity.

3. Share Best Practices With the Rest of Your Coding Staff

Now is a good time for retraining and sharing best practices with your entire revenue cycle team. Don’t fall for the false assumption that what one coder knows, the rest know. Often there are different tricks or practices that one coder has in their head that should be shared for the good of the group. These are the opportunities that saves your coding staff time, and prevents you from needing to hire new coders.

4. Find Opportunities For Increased Automation

In today’s revenue cycle world, automation is king. Automation is the best way to increase coder productivity overall and leverage the coding staff you already have. There are most likely plenty of routine coding tasks that could be automated, and this will save you hours of time. That could add up to an entire FTE.

Want Increased Productivity & Better Revenue Cycle Outcomes?

When it comes to your revenue cycle, we know productivity and outcomes are the goal. You want results – low denials, more time-savings, and claims that get paid on the first try. That is what we are here for at White Plume. We partner with clients to produce results, not just software. That’s why our clients save up to $10,000 per provider per year.

See how much you could save by taking our free revenue cycle analysis today.