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Is Outsourced Medical Coding the Right Choice for Your Practice?

Written by Jerry Mason

Whether you’re part of a small practice, a large physician group, clinic or hospital, outsourced medical coding is worth considering.

Your practice’s compensation and cash flow depend on timely and accurate coding and submission of your medical services to the insurance carriers. Depending on how you currently get medical coding done, outsourcing the process might be the most cost-effective way to accomplish that.

So how do you know outsourcing medical coding is the right fit for your practice?

What Remote Medical Coding Means

Outsourcing your medical coding simply means you’re contracting with someone else to do your medical coding, instead of having coders on staff. Depending on what you need, that might be a medical coding consultant or a dedicated medical coding company. With the time-consuming nature of medical coding (especially with ICD-10!), using a remote medical coding team can help you run a more efficient practice.

Outsource medical coding companies also take care of qualifying, recruiting, training, compensating, certifying and continually evaluating their staff to make sure they’re staying up to code. As coding becomes more specialized it requires both broader and deeper knowledge and continuing education. Outsource coding companies have those programs in place to make sure they can offer their clients coders with the right skill sets.

How does remote coding work?

After completing a procedure, a physician with a outsource medical coding company sends over the medical charts electronically for coding. The remote coders read, code, and quickly send back those charts.

Remote coding companies review charts completed by their coders to ensure accuracy and compliance before they are sent on to the hospital or practice. This layer of oversight means fewer rejected claims, faster remittance from the insurance carriers, and often better compensation.

Where would my remote coders reside?

Remote coding companies recruit their coders domestically and overseas. The expansion and complexities of healthcare services and procedures have made medical coding a big business. In fact, the demand for medical coders in the U.S. is so high, that much of the medical coding workforce has gone global. Medical coding companies are now hiring workers overseas.

Domestic vs. Overseas outsourcing

Some physicians might be hesitant to hire overseas medical coders. But actually, the quality of these coders is often very high — especially since medical coding companies require them to go through the same trainings and certifications as any domestic coder.

As the number of coders in the U.S. goes down, hiring overseas coders is becoming more popular. Plus, there’s one more huge bonus for physician practices: offshore coding costs significantly less than domestic coding services—up to 40% less. So if you decide to outsource your coding, ask your potential vendors about whether they offer a cheaper, overseas option.

Compare the costs

If you have a medical coder in house, consider all the costs that come along with that —costs of office space, overhead, salaries, benefits, scheduling, managing, and training. Try adding up those costs and compare it to the cost of hiring an outsource coding company. Consider also how efficient your in-house coder is, and whether hiring a company might give you access to a team of coders for the same price.

Think also about your coding volume and type of coding needed. If you have a limited amount of coding and it’s in a narrow specialty, you’re probably best off with your own coder(s). But if you have high volumes of procedures across many specialties, staffing your own coding department may be more hassle and expense than you want

Depending on the numbers, remote medical coding might be the best option for you. Especially if you’re trying to cut down on the administrative headaches and get a flexible coding resource that adjusts cost and time as you need it.


Published: October 14, 2015