What is Concurrent Coding in Healthcare?
What is Concurrent Coding?
By definition, concurrent coding is when a medical coding team matches the medical charts of patients currently in the hospital (and not yet discharged) to diagnosis codes (DRG Validation). This process speeds up the billing cycle and allows the medical coding team to avoid falling behind in coding discharged patients.
Unfortunately, many hospitals and health systems struggle with coding backlog or DNFB (Discharge Not Final Billed). With such low margins, cash is king in the hospital world. That’s why it’s so important for hospitals and health systems to keep coding backlog to a minimum.
But is concurrent coding actually attainable?
Best Practices for Concurrent Coding
As medical conditions (and therefore, medical coding) grow in complexity, the need for efficiency and accuracy in the process is essential. The obvious benefit of concurrent coding is quicker turnaround times, but we all know that’s easier said and done. What about quality? What about varying circumstances? What about discontinuity between revenue cycle teams?
All of these questions highlight the need for certain “best practices” when it comes to achieving concurrent coding. There must be collaboration between physicians, CDI (Clinical Documentation Improvement) professionals, and coding teams. If one of those groups isn’t fully invested in achieving Rev Cycle efficiency, it will be difficult to have a successful program.
It’s also helpful to have CDI and coding teams with clinical knowledge. Although that’s more difficult and expensive to recruit in the beginning, over time the hospital captures more revenue and doesn’t waste resources on fixing quality issues.
Using Concurrent Coding to Improve RCM
Rarely do hospitals outsource their coding operations to a RCM company with an expectation to reach concurrent coding. Most hospital systems outsource their “easy” charts to offshore coding companies. They send outpatient work or inpatient charts that fit certain criteria, such as newborns or charts with a length of stay under 7 days.
But expectations of what an outsourced partner can achieve has changed. Shearwater Health creates customized solutions that not only code any chart type, but also perform the work efficiently so that hospital partners achieve concurrent coding in a relatively short amount of time.
By taking advantage of the Philippine time zone, Shearwater has a “code while they sleep” mentality that allows the hospital partner to have their charts coded during the U.S. night shift. That means both newly discharged patients and inpatient charts are coded “overnight” which reduces backlog. Patients staying multiple days with more complex charts are coded sooner which means any discrepancies can be addressed with the CDI team before the patient has even left the hospital.
One of the best examples of implementing this concurrent coding program is with a Top Academic Health System that had $120 million of coding backlog and in 3 years it was reduced to concurrent coding. Read the case study here.
Benefits of Using an Outsourced Medical Coding Company to Achieve Concurrent Coding:
1. 24/7 coverage because of different time zones
2. Lower cost while keeping consistent quality with less turnover
3. Internal staff can focus on patients still in hospital
If your hospital system needs to improve cash flow and eliminate backlogs in your coding department, Shearwater can create a plan of attack for you. Our Six Sigma Business Excellence team coupled with our clinical medical coders can act quickly to prioritize the charts that are causing your DNFB to be higher than your team’s achievable goals. Contact us to learn more.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on March 12, 2018 and was re-published with updated content.