When automating areas within the revenue cycle, the coding department is a common place to start. Bridgett Feagin shares insight on the medical center's automation preparation.
Automating areas of the revenue cycle is becoming more common place for many organizations and it's not unusual for automation to begin within the coding department. In fact, over the past two decades, medical coding automation has steadily increased across the healthcare industry as a means of coping with complex and increasing coding systems.
Connecticut Children's Medical Center, which has locations all across Connecticut ranging in more than 30 different specialties, is also working on automating its revenue cycle. The healthcare system is preparing to automate a part of its medical coding department to help enable precise and rapid medical billing and improve payment cycles.
Healthleader's recently got the chance to hear from Bridgett Feagin, Executive Vice President and CFO at Connecticut Children's, about its upcoming automation implementation and tips for other organizations looking to follow suit.
HealthLeaders: What created the need for this automation within your revenue cycle?
Bridgett Feagin: At Connecticut Children’s, we are always looking to improve our revenue cycle operations and one way is by identifying automation opportunities. We are working with the company Nym, which brings coding software that will decrease our lag times and improve time to bill with emergency department encounters. The software is able to complete a significant number of the encounters, thus allowing for our coders to focus on the complex cases that require human review and intervention.
HL: How exactly will you be using the software to streamline coding and billing, and how long will it take to implement such a large change?
BF: We are currently working with the company to design and build the system to capture our coding. This includes utilizing our facility-based, emergency-department point system to determine resource use and commonly captured procedures. The software is able to capture charges for the professional and facility, emergency-department level as well as any procedures performed and ensure all charges are accounted for.
We are anticipating a go-live later this summer, and once we go live, the automation will allow for less manual labor thus reducing the time for the bill to go out the door. Quicker billing typically accelerates the flow of cash-in.
HL: Which revenue cycle roles are responsible for overseeing this new process and what are their responsibilities?
BF: Our health information hospital coding and billing departments, along with the Nym team, are responsible for overseeing the process. Responsibilities include monitoring the anticipated impacts which include, but are not limited to, decreasing coding lag days across the organization achieved by decreased emergency department coding volume, decreased hold days for billing, and improved overall accuracy rate.
HL: What does the future for your revenue cycle hold? Are you looking to automate other areas of the revenue cycle?
BF: The future of Connecticut Children’s revenue cycle holds increased payer partnerships, standardization, and automation. Over the past several years we have expanded simple visit coding to capture over 70% of outpatient encounters thus reducing the unnecessary review from a coder. This has allowed us to shift coders to meet the organization’s needs without having to increase staffing requirements. In addition, we are looking to further expand the Children’s Health Consortium to build synergies and create efficiencies with other independent children’s hospitals.
HL: What tips do you have for other organizations looking to automate certain departments within their revenue cycle?
BF: Always question the way things are being done. As technology changes, we must also change and adapt to remain relevant in today’s competitive healthcare industry. Accepting norms and not questioning them would cause us to remain stagnant and miss key opportunities to improve the services that we provide for our patients and families.
“As technology changes, we must also change and adapt to remain relevant in today’s competitive healthcare industry. Accepting norms and not questioning them would cause us to remain stagnant and miss key opportunities to improve the services that we provide for our patients and families.”
Bridgett Feagin, Executive Vice President and CFO at Connecticut Children’s
Amanda Norris is the Associate Content Manager of Finance, Payer, Revenue Cycle, and Strategy for HealthLeaders.