Physicians: Trust Your Best Friend, the Coder

physician articleThis is the title of an article I read in the May 2015 edition of Healthcare Business Monthly. The title caught my attention, and it addresses how important medical coders are to physicians.

The author starts with the following question to physicians “How do you have time to look up the correct way to submit your patients’ claims so you get paid for providing all of these services?” This is followed up with the answer. “You don’t. Fortunately, most of you have a fantastic resource in your office: the coder. A certified coder has undergone specialized training in how to submit claims correctly. He or she has a better chance than you do of getting paid.”

The second part of this answer might upset physicians. However, medical coders are trained to know to how to correctly submit claims. Physicians are trained to treat patients, not on how to correctly submit claims. The article illustrates this point with the following example, “If you specialize in podiatry, would you attempt a brain aneurysm repair? Some things are better left to the specialists, and coding is no different.” Another way to look at this is would you want an automobile mechanic to repair your furnace. I know I wouldn’t want an automobile mechanic repairing my furnace.

The last part of the article talks about how important it is for the physician to get to know the medical coder. The article states that this is important because “This not only creates a pleasant work environment, but can actually improve your bottom line.” It also says “If your coder feels comfortable coming to you with a tip on how to better document a service you’re providing, you may be able to report a higher level of service.” This creates a win-win situation for both the physician and the medical coder.

The article also lists several tips to get on the medical coder’s good side:

• Know your coder’s name, where his or her desk is, and work schedule. Say hello if you see the coder somewhere outside of work. Above all, let your coder know you appreciate his or her work.
• If you haven’t already, beef up your documentation. With ICD-10 coming (yes, it’s coming) you must be as specific as possible with your diagnoses. In doing so, you help your coder transition to ICD-10 with minimized loss of productivity.

For more information on this topic, review the article in the May 2015 edition of Healthcare Business Monthly.

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