Question Are there employers in the coding industry who value accuracy more than productivity?

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I recently lost my job as a medical coder because I was unable to meet my employer's productivity standards. I know many of my coworkers were struggling with this as well. I've been coding since 2009. My first job was on-site for a privately-owned clinic and my second job was remote for a large healthcare system. I have two certifications - CPC and CEMC. My strength is accuracy but that affects my productivity. I'm very discouraged and starting to wonder if I'm in the wrong industry. I would like to continue working from home, especially now with the pandemic. Does anyone know of employers in the coding industry who value accuracy more than productivity or am I looking for a needle in a haystack?
 

Orthocoderpgu

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From my experience lately your looking for a needle in a haystack. My background is similar to yours as I have been coding since 2007. With the implementation of EHR/EMR our lives were going to be made so much better, but they all fail in significant ways. One big way of failing is coder oversight and management. It used to be that my supervisor and manager understood my workflow, but not any longer. When I switched to coding surgeries I would print out my surgeries every morning and then put them in order from easy to difficult. By the end of the day I was generally done with all of them and had time to spend on the more difficult ones. With EMR and work queue's all of that is out the window. One of my surgeon's is a specialist that performs the most difficult surgeries in his field. He can perform 16-22 surgical procedures which hit edits, but I can bill out $35K to $60K for just one surgery. His numbers are off the charts and he bills more money to insurance than any other surgeon. But management gives me the same amount of credit (the numbers are all in the work queue) as a simple ACL repair which I can do in just a few minutes. With the EMR my manager is now several states away and is not that familiar with my work load. I can bill a ton of money to insurance due to the type of surgeries I code, but management only looks at the number that were coded at the end of the day. Coders like us should be celebrated and be in high demand, but more and more I see coders skip every corner that they can "just to get their numbers up". However, when things are coded that way it creates denials and a ton of work on the backend that would not happen if they were coded correctly in the first place. So what's happening in our world today is that coding managers and administrators are going into the EMR at the end of the day and reviewing how many claims coders were able to code. They are looking at nothing but numbers. So coders who don't do their jobs, cut corners and code claims wrong simply because they don't want to take the time to do them correctly, those are the coders who show that they have worked more at the end of the day and management "thinks" they are getting the job done when in reality they are just creating problems.
 
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thomas7331

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I recently lost my job as a medical coder because I was unable to meet my employer's productivity standards. I know many of my coworkers were struggling with this as well. I've been coding since 2009. My first job was on-site for a privately-owned clinic and my second job was remote for a large healthcare system. I have two certifications - CPC and CEMC. My strength is accuracy but that affects my productivity. I'm very discouraged and starting to wonder if I'm in the wrong industry. I would like to continue working from home, especially now with the pandemic. Does anyone know of employers in the coding industry who value accuracy more than productivity or am I looking for a needle in a haystack?
I feel your pain about this and it's a frustration I've dealt with myself throughout my time working in healthcare. Like it or not, though, productivity standards are a fact of life in any line of work, not just in healthcare, as most business of any kind have to operate on a thin margin in order to remain competitive. Even so, quality is important, and as the last poster correctly points out, poor quality work can actually create more work in the long run because other people have to go back and fix the mistakes and their consequences. There's a saying I like and agree with which is "If you don't have time to do it right, how are you going to find time to do it over?" In my opinion, businesses (and their employees too) always need to find the right balance between productivity and quality - both are important, and failure to recognize the need for both good quality and efficient productivity is simply poor management.

All that said, it can indeed be difficult to find an employer that operates this way, but there are ones out there that do. I think that on the provider side, larger organizations such as hospital groups tend to be more focused on quality because they tend to be under more scrutiny from the payers and are so are more aware of the potential financial costs of not maintaining good coding quality, and larger employers may not be quite so tight on their budgets which may allow them the flexibility to balance the two.

So if you're looking for an organization that will recognize and reward quality, I don't think you're looking for a needle in a haystack and would encourage you to keep looking. On the other hand, I don't think you're going to escape the need to meet productivity standards wherever you go, in this industry or in any another. But one suggestion I might make is that, if your strength is in quality rather than productivity, then perhaps a production coding job might not be the right role for you and I'd suggest looking for, or working toward, a position that involves a quality focus. For example, a quality auditor or educator, or an appeals specialist, an analyst, or lead/supervisory role where your focus is not on always meeting your numbers on a daily basis but where you can take on a problem-solving or research function - someone who is responsible for finding the right answers for the organization and communicating that information to others. In one of these positions, you could be handling escalated issues or questions that require someone who is good at solving the problems that enable the organization to be successful. There are certainly such roles out there if you persevere and keep looking. Good luck!
 
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Owatonna
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From my experience lately your looking for a needle in a haystack. My background is similar to yours as I have been coding since 2007. With the implementation of EHR/EMR our lives were going to be made so much better, but they all fail in significant ways. One big way of failing is coder oversight and management. It used to be that my supervisor and manager understood my workflow, but not any longer. When I switched to coding surgeries I would print out my surgeries every morning and then put them in order from easy to difficult. By the end of the day I was generally done with all of them and had time to spend on the more difficult ones. With EMR and work queue's all of that is out the window. One of my surgeon's is a specialist that performs the most difficult surgeries in his field. He can perform 16-22 surgical procedures which hit edits, but I can bill out $35K to $60K for just one surgery. His numbers are off the charts and he bills more money to insurance than any other surgeon. But management gives me the same amount of credit (the numbers are all in the work queue) as a simple ACL repair which I can do in just a few minutes. With the EMR my manager is now several states away and is not that familiar with my work load. I can bill a ton of money to insurance due to the type of surgeries I code, but management only looks at the number that were coded at the end of the day. Coders like us should be celebrated and be in high demand, but more and more I see coders skip every corner that they can "just to get their numbers up". However, when things are coded that way it creates denials and a ton of work on the backend that would not happen if they were coded correctly in the first place. So what's happening in our world today is that coding managers and administrators are going into the EMR at the end of the day and reviewing how many claims coders were able to code. They are looking at nothing but numbers. So coders who don't do their jobs, cut corners and code claims wrong simply because they don't want to take the time to do them correctly, those are the coders who show that they have worked more at the end of the day and management "thinks" they are getting the job done when in reality they are just creating problems.
Thank you for the feedback. Your background is also similar to mine in that my first job was in orthopedics. Although I coded office visits, I understand your frustration. The more complex cases are going to take longer than the simple cases if you're trying to do it right the first time. It's unfortunate that they are only looking at the number submitted when so many other things should be taken into consideration. Best wishes on your journey!
 
Messages
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Location
Owatonna
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I feel your pain about this and it's a frustration I've dealt with myself throughout my time working in healthcare. Like it or not, though, productivity standards are a fact of life in any line of work, not just in healthcare, as most business of any kind have to operate on a thin margin in order to remain competitive. Even so, quality is important, and as the last poster correctly points out, poor quality work can actually create more work in the long run because other people have to go back and fix the mistakes and their consequences. There's a saying I like and agree with which is "If you don't have time to do it right, how are you going to find time to do it over?" In my opinion, businesses (and their employees too) always need to find the right balance between productivity and quality - both are important, and failure to recognize the need for both good quality and efficient productivity is simply poor management.

All that said, it can indeed be difficult to find an employer that operates this way, but there are ones out there that do. I think that on the provider side, larger organizations such as hospital groups tend to be more focused on quality because they tend to be under more scrutiny from the payers and are so are more aware of the potential financial costs of not maintaining good coding quality, and larger employers may not be quite so tight on their budgets which may allow them the flexibility to balance the two.

So if you're looking for an organization that will recognize and reward quality, I don't think you're looking for a needle in a haystack and would encourage you to keep looking. On the other hand, I don't think you're going to escape the need to meet productivity standards wherever you go, in this industry or in any another. But one suggestion I might make is that, if your strength is in quality rather than productivity, then perhaps a production coding job might not be the right role for you and I'd suggest looking for, or working toward, a position that involves a quality focus. For example, a quality auditor or educator, or an appeals specialist, an analyst, or lead/supervisory role where your focus is not on always meeting your numbers on a daily basis but where you can take on a problem-solving or research function - someone who is responsible for finding the right answers for the organization and communicating that information to others. In one of these positions, you could be handling escalated issues or questions that require someone who is good at solving the problems that enable the organization to be successful. There are certainly such roles out there if you persevere and keep looking. Good luck!
Thank you for the encouraging words, Thomas. I do understand the need for productivity standards, especially when you're working remotely. However, since my strength is in quality rather than productivity, trying to find a position like the ones you mentioned makes sense.
 

greenrc1

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Little Rock, AR
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I recently lost my job as a medical coder because I was unable to meet my employer's productivity standards. I know many of my coworkers were struggling with this as well. I've been coding since 2009. My first job was on-site for a privately-owned clinic and my second job was remote for a large healthcare system. I have two certifications - CPC and CEMC. My strength is accuracy but that affects my productivity. I'm very discouraged and starting to wonder if I'm in the wrong industry. I would like to continue working from home, especially now with the pandemic. Does anyone know of employers in the coding industry who value accuracy more than productivity or am I looking for a needle in a haystack?
Hi! I'm sorry to hear about your experience. I have seen this happen to multiple people in the healthcare finance world. Medical billers face the same issue with the outrageous productivity goals. Physician offices and Insurance companies usually don't have those same standards. They usually want the accuracy vs quantity. Since we're in a pandemic lots of insurance companies need coders, risk adjustment coders, recovery specialists and auditors with a lower experience requirement. Do not allow your experience with that company discourage you. I would add that strength to my cover letter and discuss it during your interviews. Try searching "CPC" in location "remote" on Indeed. I have confidence you find something else and soon. Good luck to you!
 
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Thank you for your response. It helps to know that I'm not the only one who has had issues with productivity standards. I had been wondering if medical billing would be a better fit so I'm glad you pointed out that they face the same issues. Since accuracy is my strength, that's what I will focus on during my job search. I appreciate your encouraging words!
 
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