With ICD-10 here, the shifts in the medical landscape due to the Affordable Care Act, and the switch to consumer-centered practices medical office managers face many challenges, in keeping abreast of all the changes. Just staying up-to-date with the changes in medical coding could be a full time job, but medical office managers still have to maintain their practices, making sure they are efficient and profitable.
A little help from a trusted authority can be a lifesaver.
Certification Coaching Corporationis a dedicated service that allows medical professionals of all kinds the opportunity to get certified in the new medical coding system. We spoke to Certification Coaching Corporation’s Laureen Jandroep about the company, the recent changes to the medical code, and some advantages of certification.
You’ve been working in the health care industry for 29 years and started as an occupational therapist. What inspired you initially to want to teach others medical coding?
When my rehab business ended, I decided to open a medical billing company and quickly learned you needed to know medical coding in order to do billing well, especially as a business owner. There were no classes in my local area, so I had to attend a 5-day boot camp. Once I got my training, I expanded my teaching of medical billing on the side to include medical coding since there was a real need. My former employees took my course and told me they hadn’t seen me that happy in a long time. I discovered I really enjoyed making sure my students got that light bulb moment and felt confident about their new career choice.
What are some of the main changes you’ve seen in medical coding since starting Certification Coaching Corporation?
Code sets change every year with new, deleted and changed codes; but I’d say the big changes are the new diagnostic code set changing from ICD-9 to ICD-10, became effective 10/1/16. In addition, online encoders and CAC (computer assisted coding) has changed the way coders do their work and have elevated them to more of a supervisory role.
What are some reasons that medical office managers should spend some time learning more about medical coding?
Medical coding is really like translating – translating the medical record into code sets. When office managers understand the full picture, and can see how complicated it can be and how the physicians need to be educated on providing enough information in order to code properly, it makes them more effective in their jobs and managing coders and billers.
What might be some advantages of getting certified in medical coding?
Healthcare entities seeking medical coders want them to be certified, and other companies are requiring their existing staff to get certified. According to salary surveys by the AAPC and other entities, certified coders earn more and have better job security.
Can you talk a bit about the different levels of services and what they mean for a practice?
Often, if a physician is shadowed by a coder and later that coder tries to code the services provided (office visits, evaluation and management services, procedures like stitches, etc.), the coder finds that the physician did not document fully what was done; and therefore the coder couldn’t code the higher level office visit or higher level procedure code (i.e. complex repair vs. simple) that the physician deserved.
Could you talk about the recent adoption of the ICD-10? What are some ways it differs from the ICD-9? How has this complicated the lives of medical office managers and billers?
ICD-10 has been a long time in coming to the USA; other countries have been using it for some time. It offers greater granularity in describing diagnostic situations that ICD-9 does not provide for. It is greatly expanded and therefore needs a whole new structure. Instead of a 3-5 digit code as in ICD-9, the codes are alpha-numeric up to 7 characters.
For office managers, it means making sure their doctors learn/know how to pick codes specific enough to be billed without rejections, so they can get paid quickly.
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