A snapshot of the 24th annual AAPC conference

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the recent HEALTHCON conference sponsored by the American Academy of Professional Coders. The 24th annual event, held in Orlando April 9-13, drew nearly 2,700 attendees — many of them physician practice coders. More than 50 vendors also exhibited at the conference, providing the opportunity for networking and checking out the latest and greatest technology. Plus, there were many fun giveaways and prizes (I always enjoy grabbing some extra pens!).

The schedule was jam packed with sessions touching on EMRs, coding/billing compliance, HIPAA, productivity, practice management, telemedicine, value-based payments, and more. It was a coder’s dream — a smorgasbord of all things coding! Speakers included physicians, consultants, attorneys, and others. Every session I attended was held in a room filled with bright-eyed coders ready and willing to take notes, ask questions, and absorb information like a sponge.

Following are just a few of the noteworthy highlights:

  1. Coders and billers must learn the lingo of denials. Read the EOB carefully. Track and trend denial codes, and implement carrier-specific edits. -Yvonne Dailey
  2. 90%-93% of denials are preventable because they’re due to data entry errors. Design front-end processes that ensure accurate demographic and financial information. -Yvonne Dailey
  3. Physician practices need policies and procedures. Every practice should have these policies in place: Financial policy, bad debt/write offs, financial hardship, compliance, claim correction, refunds. -Yvonne Dailey
  4. Physicians must ensure that their personal mobile devices conform to enterprise-wide policies and procedures for HIPAA compliance. -Steve Spearman
  5. The biggest hurdle in terms of billing for transitional care management is being able to receive discharge notifications. Practices must develop relationships with hospitals to establish this workflow. -Stephen Canon
  6. Wearable devices will improve preventive medicine. That’s because these devices will continuously gather data in real-time, providing much richer health histories. What will this mean for HIM? There are many privacy implications. We’ll need new permission models that must be more sophisticated and perhaps even rely on time-limited boundaries. We’ll also need to be able to filter information based on the end user/recipient of that data. -Scott Klososky
  7. Auto-population in the EMR is risky business because it affects credibility. -Michael Miscoe
  8. Some Medicaid contractors and commercial payers are asking for the EMR audit trail. -Robert Pelaia
  9. When reporting time-based codes, coders need to question whether the payer is using CMS or AMA guidelines. -Michael Strong
  10. Data is becoming the new currency. By 2030, consumers will be able to shop for and compare physicians. We’ll also see more bundled payments, the expansion of telemedicine, and the consolidation of smaller practices into larger integrated practices. -Dan Schwebach
  11. Coders are salespeople — they must “sell” the importance of coding to physicians. -Stephanie Cecchini
  12. As soon as you feel comfortable, it’s time to learn something new. -Stephanie Cecchini
  13. Templates are a tool — not a “be all end all” when it comes to selecting a code. You still need to question/validate the code and ensure that documentation supports code assignment. -Angela Jordan
  14. Coding quality is just as important as coding productivity. -Ann Bina
  15. When setting productivity standards, consider these factors: Page count, access to coding tools, experience, handwritten vs. electronic notes, Internet speed, provider (resident vs. physician), non-coding duties, and more. -Ann Bina

 

 

 

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