News: Remote coding on the rise, productivity holds steady, survey finds

CDI Strategies - Volume 13, Issue 1

In 2018, most organizations maintained coder productivity status quo, according to results from HIM Briefings’ (HIMB) 2018 coding productivity survey. Half of all respondents (50.9%) indicated they measure productivity by number of charts coded per hour. Other respondents said they measure productivity by:

  • Number of charts coded per day (18.7%)
  • Number of charts coded per hour or per week but weighted based on length of stay, DRG weight, or other factors (9.9%)
  • Average number of charts coded per month (4.1%)
  • Number of charts coded per week (3.5%)

Of those who reported measuring productivity by charts coded per hour, 51.3% indicated they coded an average of one to two inpatient charts per hour. That’s up slightly from 2017 (46.9%) and 2016 (34%).

For the first time, HIMB asked respondents to choose from a list of factors and indicate what effect these factors had on coding productivity. The most common positive rating was use of computer-assisted coding (CAC) applications: 34.8% said it had a positive impact on coding productivity. About half of respondents in 2018 reported using CAC for some or all inpatient or outpatient coding.

The most common negative impact was non-response to provider queries: 64.9% indicated that this negatively impacted their coders’ productivity.

When it comes to remote work, most respondents (49.7%) had a combination of coders working on-site and remotely, although the overall number of remote coding staff continues to grow. In 2018, 30.4% said all their coders are remote (versus 27.3% in 2017, and 18.4% in 2016). Coding departments staffed solely by on-site staff continue to drop, with only 19.9% reporting that all their facility’s coders work on-site in 2018 (versus 23.2% in 2017, and 34.7% in 2016).

Organizations might sometimes choose to supplement the coding department with outsourced staff. Although this can help increase overall productivity, provide coverage on weekends or nights, or help fill staffing gaps, other factors such as cost can be a drawback. About half of respondents (53.6%) said all coding is done with in-house staff, about the same as in 2017. Of those who outsource some coding, 33.1% outsource domestically and 12.7% contract with offshore companies.

About half of respondents (51.5%) said that their organization has an inpatient CDI program, which is about the same as in 2017. Although some organizations are expanding their CDI programs in response to the growth in outpatient services, only 13.5% of respondents indicated that they have CDI staff working on both inpatient and outpatient records.

To read more of the survey’s results, visit Revenue Cycle Advisor.

Editor’s note: To read the rest of the survey results, click here. To read the results to the new mini CDI productivity survey, click here.

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