By Bill Wagner, CHPS, CPCO, Chief Operating Officer
Sarah Humbert, RHIA, Vice President of Coding Operations, and I recently had the opportunity to talk with three of KIWI-TEK’s long-time coding partners about the whirlwind year we’ve all had.
In this 3-part blog series we explore some of the biggest changes these revenue cycle experts experienced, how their HIM and coding teams met the challenges, and advice for our readers to help navigate 2021. In Part 1, we discussed adjusting to change. Part 2 digs deeper into the biggest HIM or revenue cycle challenge our clients faced this year.
KIWI-TEK Customer Blog Series
Part 2 of 3 – Biggest HIM and Revenue Cycle Changes of 2020
What was the biggest HIM or revenue cycle challenge you faced this year, and how did you overcome that challenge?
Lorie B. Mills, RHIT, CCS, AHIMA Approved I10 Trainer, System Director of Coding and CDI, Health Information Management, Forrest General Hospital: We faced two major challenges this year: 1) keeping abreast of daily changes to regulations and 2) the decrease in elective procedures. To combat ongoing changes to regulations, the Patient Financial Services (PFS) Team, Physician Billing (PB) and HIM stayed in constant contact. We also elicited help from KIWI-TEK to host a free webinar for the Mississippi Health Information Management Association (MSHIMA).
To address the decrease elective procedures, our coding team reduced all vendor usage and reassigned coders that were most affected. Employees with large quantities of banked PTO took time off and some employees asked to take non-paid days once a week. In addition, we assigned selected coders to participate in a special COVID-19 review project. And since we had to staff controlled access to facilities, we were able to offer hours that were unrelated to HIM operations.
Matt Hoeger, Director of Revenue Integrity, Penn State Health, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center: The biggest challenge we faced was the short time frame to prepare for implementing telehealth services. Not only did we have to train the coding staff and providers, we were also dealing with frequent and inconsistent guidelines from payers. This created a nightmare for attempting to build the system logic and edits that help ensure a clean bill gets out the door and paid. We held daily meetings with all of the stakeholders involved in that process and updated payer grids as new information was received. Compliance was pulled in to help us make decisions and interpret payer communications.
Tracy G. Hickey, MBA, RHIA, CPHI, CHTS-CP, FAHIMA, Director, Health Information Management, West Tennessee Healthcare: Our main challenge was furloughed staff and the ability to get work done with staffing reduction and a remote workforce. We set the expectation that the job is the same regardless of location. Keeping the lines of communication open is important to staff and their ability to remain productive while working from home.
Sarah Humbert, RHIA, Vice President of Coding Operations, KIWI-TEK: Scheduling coders to handle the ever-changing volumes is an ongoing challenge that requires open communication with both clients and coders. Providing cross-training for a mix of full-time, part-time and PRN coders is necessary to fulfill client needs. We have to be flexible and prepared to help our clients sustain productivity within their HIM and revenue cycle departments.
As we anticipate potential challenges and opportunities in the post-COVID-19 world, the insights and advice shared by our panel of HIM experts is invaluable. Join us for Part 3: Organizational Changes and Advice for 2021.