But I didn’t worry. My wife was a few years out of residency at the time, so this logical questions ran through my mind: surely this coding thing was still fresh in her mind?
As the trainer continued talking in a foreign language (I later found out was divided into two dialects, CPT and ICD9) I assured myself …doctors are taught this peculiar character/numerical dialect during medical school and then get the change to master it during residency. It would be as foolish as having a sail boat with no sails to not teach doctors how to bill and code. Besides, how do you pass the boards without knowing billing and coding?
I had nothing to worry about.
What? You’re as clueless as I am? Didn’t you pass the boards? You mean to tell me that in those 3-years they didn’t even give you a lunch seminar on how to get paid for your work?
My next thought was, Oh boy! We are a deep, deep, sh… I mean 787.91.
Here is the thing, as ridiculous as not teaching residents at least the basics of billing and coding may sound, what’s more ridiculous, is that many doctors don’t do anything about it. Few docs – knowing very well that billing is coding determines their pay – learn how to document and code properly. Many don’t even go to coding seminars regularly.
Instead, may docs (not the ones that read this blog, of course) blame health insurance companies or blame their EMRs for getting payed less while to do more. All of which is likely true.
But here is a hard truth. If you’re a health provider and you do not take the time to learn and stay current with with coding and billing guidelines, then you need to get the list of all the things you blame for declining pay and write your name at the top of that list.
Why? Because the loss of revenue is happens in your examining room as a result of poor documentation and poor coding.
Fundamentally, most pediatricians are doing the work. But because they lack knowledge and awareness on how to document and bill as a result of not keeping up to date they are leaving countless dollars – dollars they’ve worked for – on the table.
It also is worth mentioning that relying on your billing and coding team is not an excuse to not to keep up to date on coding and billing guidelines. To put it in perspective, putting all the responsibility on your billing and coding department is like asking your nurse or MA to take full responsibility for your patients.
And I’m not diminishing the role of clinical support staff or the coding and billing department. My point is that RNs and MAs, as well as billing and coding personnel, are there to assist.
If want to improve your medical practice’s bottom line in one easy step, all you need to do – for starters – is:
Attend a coding seminar, pronto!
I’ll guarantee you’ll increase your bottom line.
(This blog was originally posted on Pediatric Inc)
Brandon Betancourt is a business director for a pediatric practice in Chicago. He is a speaker, consultant and blogger. You can follow him on Twitter @PediatricInc or visit his blog at PediatricInc.com.