More than 2,500 hospitals and health systems in the U.S. have implemented mandatory vaccination policies for employees since September 27, according to the American Hospital Association. Rather than simply encouraging staff vaccination, a growing number of providers have shifted to requiring the shots as a condition of employment. Though controversial, implementation of these policies accelerated when the Biden administration made workforce vaccination a requirement for Medicare and Medicaid participation.
Also under an order from President Biden, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is drafting proposed rules that would require companies with more than 100 employees to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing. The standard would affect about 80 million workers nationwide, according to The New York Times. Once enacted, these rules could further limit job options for unvaccinated workers.
What this means for HIM directors and coding managers
Amid health system and state COVID-19 vaccination requirements, workers have been fired for noncompliance, and some have resigned or quit. If members of your staff do not comply with your organization’s vaccine requirements, what measures can you take to ensure minimal impact on your coding department? As a manageable first step, start with a short list of questions:
- How can I retain my team?
- How can I keep up with coding volume if I lose some or all of my team?
- How can I plan ahead?
Communication is critical
Encouraging vaccine adoption could put you in a difficult position on a personal level, even if your employer mandates vaccines. A strong communications plan regarding vaccine mandates is vital. “It’s critically important,” says Brian Kropp, chief of research in the Gartner HR practice. “Vaccines have become so politicized, so one of the things that executives and companies have to do is just be really, really careful about how they’re communicating around any sort of vaccine mandate they’re putting in place.” As changes in vaccine adoption occur on a daily basis, part of your job is to be well informed and communicate current, accurate information to your team.
Consider a new approach
For managers at risk of losing team members, best practice is to explore proactive alternatives to ensure optimal coding quality, volume and turnaround time. Outsourced medical coding services offer the ability to staff up or down when needed. KIWI-TEK provides an integrated coding partnership that works as an extension of your HIM or revenue cycle team. We maintain a bench of qualified medical coders professionally trained to meet the needs of your revenue cycle within a health system, hospital or physician group, regardless of size, specialties and workloads.
We take full responsibility for the performance, training, education, quality and scheduling of the coding team assigned to you. While we align with your organization’s workflows, policies and procedures, the vaccine mandate does not apply to our fully remote medical coders who work on a 1099 basis. As a trusted coding partner that understands your needs, KIWI-TEK is here to help retain your team and sustain productivity during this critical time.
Unvaccinated healthcare workers who do not return to their health system will have to compete for available jobs among a small number of employers or relocate to states where vaccination isn’t required, according to Ms. Carrington.
Under an order from President Joe Biden, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is drafting proposed rules that would require companies with more than 100 employees to require COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing. The standard would affect about 80 million workers nationwide, according to The New York Times. Once enacted, these rules could further limit job options for unvaccinated workers.