COVID-19 taught us that the way we give and receive healthcare is not fixed. It is fluid, as noted by Dennis Dahlen, CFO, CPA, MBA, of Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, who says that the pace of change has become more accelerated during the pandemic, increasing the need for quick but informed decisions.
“What we had to adjust to very quickly last spring was the idea that the demand was at 100% of plan on Monday, and the next Monday, it was 0%,” he said. “How do you flex resourcing to these much wider variations in activity? We had to really increase our ability to predict resource utilization based on varying levels of volume.”
Coding is no different. Revenue cycle leaders can remove the inefficiencies inherent in a fixed cost coding model by converting to a purely variable cost with an adaptive staffing model.
A variable coding cost model eliminates inefficiencies, and organizations see improved reimbursements when a coding vendor takes over staff wages, benefits, unemployment, training and so much more.
Two quick wins with variable cost coding
A variable cost coding model can only be successful and optimize revenue cycle with a coding vendor partner who is a specialist in their field and who takes ownership of key performance indicators (KPIs).
Variable Cost Win #1 – Coding Specialist
The pandemic has impaired coding talent recruitment and retention. Highly qualified, experienced in-house coders may not be a possibility or cost effective for some organizations right now. For a successful partnership, consider a vendor’s knowledge of their specialty and integration with existing systems such as EHRs. It’s important for a coding partner to employ specialists in their field to serve as a client’s main point of contact should questions come up. By exclusively focusing on coding, your extended team of coders can deliver specialized coding based on the support and training they need to thrive. Fixed cost models simply don’t allow for this.
Variable Cost Win #2 – KPI Ownership
Revenue cycle leaders often lack the time or resources to constantly monitor coding quality and turnaround times. In a variable cost model, the coding partner is responsible for tracking and reporting all KPIs. This process determines which KPIs impact revenue and what drives poor performance. A fixed cost coding model allows no room for continual improvement because it is not an intuitive, evolving process.
Savings is not about looking for the lowest cost. It’s about cost versus value, making sure you achieve savings, meet or exceed your service requirements, and maintain quality care delivery.
In the world of coding, whether in the facility or professional fee space, a program that offers exactly the right kind of coding expertise when needed means that you are not overpaying, and the expense is always aligned with service line volumes.