5 Ways to Tell if You Have Enough Medical Coders

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Having an adequate number of medical coders on staff is essential, particularly in the wake of the ICD-10 transition. When the number of coders is inadequate, it can quickly create backlogs leading to inevitable mistakes and directly impacting the organization’s bottom line. Does your organization have enough coders? Here are five ways to tell:

Calculate Your Volume

Determine your average annual case volume, either over the last year or an average of the last five years. Then determine the number of hours your team actually spends coding. This does not mean simply hours on the job but hours actually coding, so attempt to subtract for breaks, sick leave, conference attendance, etc. Then divide the case volume by the number of coding hours. If the number is larger than your productivity expectations, you likely need more coders.

Beware of ICD-10

The disruption caused by the ICD-10 transition has been significant, and providers across the spectrum are reporting precipitous drops in coder productivity. How long it will take to return to normal is anyone’s guess. Teams that may have been adequately staffed before Oct 1st can now be functionally considered understaffed. Extra help may be necessary to make up for the lag.

Look to the Future

You may be adequately staffed now, but will you have enough help in a year, five years, or ten years? If your provider organization is growing and your case volume is steadily on the rise, the staff you have now will struggle to keep up with the expanding workload. The best time to bring in extra help is before you need them.

Think about Skills

You may have enough coders, but are they the right kind of coders? Coding skill sets are changing quickly, and your team may begin to struggle simply because they lack a particular type of coding professional. You may not have someone with experience in data analysis on your staff right now, but you will need to have one in the near future. Don’t think only in terms of volume; consider the quality of your team as well.

Inspect the Obvious

As a coding manager, you know your team better than anyone else. What does your gut tell you? Do you feel like your team is overworked and trying to shoulder too many responsibilities? Have you had problems with burnout and morale? Have you operated with the same number of coders for longer than similar types of provider organizations? All of these are indicators that your ranks may be too small.

If you conclude that you could in fact use another coder, or a dozen more coders, find exceptional talent faster by working with MedPartners. Contact us today!

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