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Coding Standards

Coding Standards

Question: I am looking for some productivity standards for coders, particularly those who code anesthesia charges. If you were establishing a target for an anesthesia practice, what would it be?

Answer: JustCoding.com, an online source dedicated to health coding and classification systems, asked 250 coders to identify the number of records per hour they coded. The median number of records coded in a medical practice was 12 per hour, while the median number at a surgical practice was seven per hour.

I haven't seen anything specific to anesthesia, though your field is notorious for its difficult coding. So it's reasonable to expect it would be lower than other specialties. Anesthesia also has some of the highest denial rates, partly because of the coding difficulty. Remember there is no reason to encourage a coder to work faster if, by doing so, she makes more mistakes. You don't want to get faster coding in exchange for a federal audit — or less compensation.

If it were me, I think I'd look at where you are now both in terms of speed, accuracy, and payment, and just see how much faster you can make it without decreasing accuracy.

That is, measure your own internal benchmark then shoot for, say, a 10 percent increase in speed but make sure your accuracy and payments stay about the same. If that works, press for another 5 percent. Make it a self-competition.

That also helps sell it internally. Staff might balk at some number we throw out there, but if they feel working faster will make them make more mistakes they should be willing to test if it's true.


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