Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Solving Your Coding Troubles

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and cauldron bubble

Shakespeare, Macbeth

What’s the use of worrying?
It never was worthwhile.
So, pack up your troubles in an old kit-bag;
And smile, smile, smile.

Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit-Bag, 1915

No question about it. Coding is a double pain – pain in knowing how to back up the codes and pain in getting paid in a timely, cost-effective manner. This is especially true in these days of declining reimbursement and federal audits that assume you are guilty until proven innocent.

Solutions are on the way in the form of embedded software in your billing systems, biannual audits by an outside practice management firms, instantly available coding hotlines, and coding counseling offered by Modern Medicine. Even your patients can help by providing complete documentation of their stories through the Instant Medical History, which help support a higher code.

These are the essential elements of a modern kit-bag of solutions to end your coding worries. A kit-bag is a shoulder bag, containing almost everything you need should troubles arise.

The troubles with medical coding are these.

• Codes are hard to understand, but codes are how you get paid.

• Codes are developed by auditors and lawyers not present at the site of the patient-doctor encounter not by doctors who do the work.

• Codes may bear little relation to work done.

• For maximal coding efficiencies and protection from audits, codes must be compared against national benchmarks, local and regional competitors, and managed care companies’ fee schedules.

• Eighty percent of doctors undercode, partly out of difficulties of how to maximize coding and partly out of fear of being audited and penalized.

• Codes depend on complete, sometimes irrelevant documentation, which requires time, energy, training, and money to understand and to record.

• Doctors are not all that interested in the whys, whats, and hows of coding, preferring instead to spend time with patients, and leaving the coding to someone else.

For more information, go to, Peak Performance Physicians, 800-279-0614, coding hotline, 1-800-764-2633, and, and its Coding Counselor for searching for up-to-date ICD-9 codes. Simply go to the, go to lower right side of home page, click on Coding Counselor, then click on disease category you are dealing with. No email or telephone number is required.

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