Solving The Great ICD-10 Coder Shortage Conundrum

Posted by BJustus

With just four months until Isocial-media-552411_1280CD-10 Go Live, reality is beginning to set in. ICD-9, which has been in place since 1979, is on its death bed and the great coders who use it must adapt or die.  We live in a world already short on medical coding talent and ICD-10 productivity loss will only make it worse.  The industry needs new solutions but in the meantime The War for Talent has begun.

 Medical coding is both an art and a science and everyone will face a new reality at the same time.  With productivity loss at Go Live estimated to be between 30-70% today's models are unsustainable.  A few choices remain and it will likely take a combination of them to weather this storm.  Unfortunately, only a few will truly protect you against the immediate impact of ICD-10.

One option is grow your own coding staff.  We have thousands of students every year taking coding classes and looking to start their careers.  Many find they cannot get hired due to lack of experience.  Many are forced to take unpaid internships to get their foot in the door.  Unfortunately, many end up leaving the career due to lack of opportunity and sustainable income.  The irony is that most of these programs fail and the new coders who make it often leave for higher pay or perceived better opportunities.  A few have made these programs successful but often its because of the right combination of resources that is hard to replicate.

Off-shore coding is another option.  Many providers have a philosophical issue with this approach but offshore options continue to grow.  The best offshore programs typically involve tremendous oversight, quality checks and audits which can drive costs in line with domestic solutions.  There is also concern about security of protected health information when that information is being accessed by someone in a foreign country that may or may not have the security standards that we do in the United States.

The final option, which I believe to be the best choice, is domestic outsourcing.  While you are fighting to train and retain your own staff you must practice risk mitigation and line up additional skilled resources.  Even if it's only a brief time all facilities will need help.  Facilities are already experiencing difficulty in finding resources so how you execute today could determine the success of your transition and the future of your organization post Go-Live.  If you rely exclusively on traditional staff augmentation, you may lose your resources to the highest bidder when you need them the most.  The smart choice is to enter into a relationship with a company who invests in your success by building a long-term program designed to provide the best resources and who stands behind their deliverables including productivity, accuracy, availability and financial predictability.

The choices are difficult but action must take place now.  The prudent facilities will partner with a firm to corner the market to win The War for Talent.

What are your thoughts on how to best solve this industry crisis?

Topics: Outsourcing