Did you know almost one fifth of the US population lives in a rural area? Critical Access Hospitals, otherwise known as CAHs, make up nearly 30% of the nation’s acute care hospitals. The CAH designation is designed to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access to healthcare by keeping essential services in rural communities.
Healthcare Resource Group believes everyone, even those living in rural areas, should have access to healthcare services, but knows this is only a reality if it is an economic reality. That is why HRG is on a mission. Our goal is to help America’s 1332 CAHs reach fiscal goals with accurate and compliant medical coding, a reduction in coding days, and proactive DNFB management. Strengthening those 1000+ CAHs’ economic strength allows them to focus their efforts on taking care of their rural community's health needs.
Common Coding Problem CAHs Encounter
CAH facilities, by definition, are small, and therefore generally only need one coder. While one coder can handle the volume of records, it is difficult to find a coder who has the multi-disciplinary experience necessary to code all the different services found in a typical CAH: emergency department, inpatient, ancillary (Lab/Rad), same day surgery, and outpatient clinics.
It is difficult to find one coder who can code everything. Typically, a coder can either code inpatient or outpatient, rarely can they do both. Similarly, a coder with ED experience may not have experience coding same day surgeries. HRG coding management has found it necessary to assign three or four coders to accommodate CAH account needs, but these coders will likely not have enough work at one CAH, so they will code for multiple Critical Access Hospitals. This can create added challenges though, even with CAH coders being adept at navigating through different client systems, each CAH having different HIS, EHR and encoders with unique logins and passwords, the process becomes quite cumbersome decreasing workflow, productivity, and efficiency.
HRG's solution to the CAHs Coding problem
HRG has engineered a Critical Access Hospital coding solution which benefits hospital and coder alike. The Facility Coding Division of HRG has become an industry leader in CAH coding management; and their Audit and Training Division has teamed with the Facility Coding Division to develop a one of a kind CAH Coder Training Program. Each CAH is assigned one full-time coder, and an additional coder to serve as backup.
CAH coders go through a comprehensive training program using AHIMA educational resources with the goal to remediate coder knowledge deficits while building coding competencies. Training is geared to the specialties CAH coders see each day such as emergency medicine, obstetrics, and common ambulatory surgery procedures. Coders review coding guidelines and learn the PCS coding for the typical procedures done during an inpatient stay. The goal is to build coder competencies across all service lines.
THE HRG CAH Coding Training Program Difference
The CAH Training Program is evolving, as HRG is always looking for ways to improve and refine the training methodology. So far, the coders are excited to have this opportunity to expand and improve their skill sets and the CAHs are happy to have their very own HRG coder. A win-win all the way around.
Director of Facility Coding for Healthcare Resource Group, Inc.
Kelly Jacobus, CCS, CDIP, CHDA, CCS-P, CPC has just under twenty years of experience in facility and professional fee coding and AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer. Kelly also has experience in academic medicine and shares her passion for healthcare excellence with her team of dedicated, coding professionals at HRG where she is the Director of Facility Coding.