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Don’t Be Afraid to Co-source Your Medical Coding

dont-be-afraid-to-co-source-your-medical-coding.jpgLikely, you already have an opinion about outsourcing coding or other portions of your revenue cycle. It’s impossible to guess whether you think positively or negatively about this hot topic, but we’re pretty sure you’re not neutral. Here are some common responses from those within our industry who question the merits of outsourcing:

“We can’t afford to lose control.”
“You never want to outsource unless you’re really in trouble.”
“No one can do this job as well as our current staff can. Quality would never be as high.”
“Well, we obviously can’t give away access to our system.”
“There always seem to be hidden costs.”
“We fear the unknown. Third party vendors seem do everything behind the curtain.”
“There is risk of deviation from our standards and practices. How would track progress?”

Common perceptions about outsourcing are that its fundamental structure is devoid of personal touch and that business is conducted coldly via sterile lists of numbers on exported monthly reports. In some cases, this was accurate: technology limited business communication, and all of the aforementioned connotations were very real concerns with an outsourced business partner. But thankfully, technology has advanced and has brought with it more inclusive, closely-aligned and personal business partnerships. This new genre of outsourcing is bringing success across healthcare—within revenue cycle and particularly within coding.

We think co-sourcing better describes how organizations should work together today. It’s a collaborative partnership that promotes transparency and accountability within the two organizations.

 Co-sourcing improves coding operations

To use the plainest language, when you co-source coding, you gain highly-trained, remote medical coders who work directly in your EMR. If you stiffened at that last line, rest assured that a few key signatures on a legal department-approved HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA) are precisely the protection you need.

Allowing a partner access yields a couple of meaningful outcomes:

  1. Monitoring productivity and quality are done in real-time. There’s no “wait” or even “guess” regarding the status of specific claims or special projects. At any moment, either organization can see exactly what their co-source partner is doing. It’s not that there aren’t any secrets; it’s that there can’t be any secrets. That goes a long way in lifting the mysterious “curtain” sometimes associated with outsourced engagements.
  1. Working cohesively means both partners take giant steps forward. At MediRevv, our coders consider themselves an extension of our clients’ existing coding departments. We’re business partners, in fact. We learn your culture, your payers, your policies and processes, and we share our proven workflows to create the best possible combination of communication, efficiency, and quality. Sidenote: when we work side by side with your coders, it’s easy to dispel any worry among your existing staff that they would ever be replaced.

Co-sourcing creates flexibility

Co-sourcing with a coding partner to complement your existing team offers flexibility that is otherwise hard to attain. You are instantly and ideally staffed with the right medical coders for volume and type of work coming through your door at any given time.

Plus, you can weather the usual staff turnover, leaves of absence, or fluctuations in volume or specialties without batting an eye. So, when your cardiovascular coder is out on maternity leave, we’ll assume her work. Or when your organization acquires a specialty practice or hires additional providers to meet patient demand, we’ve got you covered.

Remember, we operate the same way as you do, right alongside your own team. We handle production coding, tackle denials as they happen—or if you have a backlog, we’ll create a team to slash it. We’ll handle system edits to speed future claims and prevent denials. We maintain our best practices and merge our standards with the ideals and workflows of our client organization, and that’s how we manage to create successful teamwork.

Co-sourcing brings value and convenience

The cost of co-sourcing is often misconstrued. If you compare your coding partner’s pricing model with just your FTE salaries for your team, you’re mixing apples with oranges. Here’s what you’re missing…

When you hire medical coders within your organization you incur many expenses, including:

  •  Employee’s hourly rate/salary
  •  Employee benefits (health insurance, retirement, vacation/sick time)
  •  Overhead costs, including management of coding staff
  •  Office space real estate
  •  Computers and connectivity
  •  Training costs and material
  • Continuing education costs to maintain certification and stay current on industry trends and regulations

Keep in mind, too, that when you lose an employee to attrition or leave, you have the added hassle and expense of recruiting, hiring, training someone new. You “pay” in reduced volumes and reimbursement when you’re not operating at full throttle.

With a co-source partner, these headaches evaporate. All of the above expenses are rolled conveniently into one allocation, and changes to your staffing needs requires a phone call, not hours or days of your attention.

So, make sure you’re evaluating the cost of co-sourcing in its true context before making a final decision.

The Bottom Line

Now that it’s so easy to work together while being in different locations, co-sourcing is a viable and convenient option for healthcare organizations’ coding teams. Whether it’s a staffing shortage, a struggle with quality, or a big old backlog of denials that you're having issues with, co-sourcing medical coding can be your next right move.

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