Growth is the name of the game for our partner/client FQHC in California. They are currently one of the largest Federally Qualified Health Centers in the country with ambitious goals to be the largest in the US.With the strategic plan set forth by the CEO they have purchased clinics throughout California with 2020 being slated as one of their largest building years.
This healthcare system did experience setbacks along the way. With such a growth plan there has been a challenge filling and maintaining a talented coding department. They had more providers producing billing, than they had staff to complete the task and the backlogs started piling up. That’s when they reached out to us.
From the moment of our first conversation they were very open about their challenge and was looking for a partner that can meet the demands that they currently could not. We started the partnership at a very modest rate, with 2 coder FTEs. Overtime, as they continued to grow, they have relied on us as a partner to help absorb a large amount of their coding workload.
We started with 7 coders with initial high expectations from the client front. We were told their coders were coding and finalizing upwards of 200+ accounts daily. The AAPC and AHIMA guidelines are 110-120 charts per day. With this in mind we ran multiple time studies to be sure we could accommodate this request. Once we were in their system, we quickly realized the providers were coding the own charts and the onsite staff was only verifying the EM levels and first couple diagnosis codes. The current onsite staff were not taking the time to capture the ongoing chronic conditions that were also treated during the same office visit. Still, the client insisted on daily productivity numbers well above the standards set by AAPC and AHIMA. We began by setting weekly goals which would get us to a realistic target, but still keeping the standard of coding necessary to capture the ‘complete’ visit. While the productivity numbers are important, quality is the primary goal and we wanted to be sure we maintained the high quality we demand from our coding and auditing staff. We also added a couple of ‘buffer’ coders so that we could reach a realistic productivity of 140-150 charts per day. The added benefit to the buffer staff is directly related to growth. As the client continues to need additional staff, we will always have experienced staff (in their system) ready to transition at a moment’s notice. Our staff continues to consistently demonstrate high productivity and accuracy.
As the backlogs would continue, they would call and ask to add 3-4 FTE temporary staff to complete the backlog. We did so well, these ‘temporary’ staff became permanent positions. With time and the continued growth, we now have 14 coding FTEs assigned to this client with no sign of slowing down in the future. We have been able be flexible with their immediate needs and are able to quickly adapt and onboard additional FTEs as necessary. Our coding team covers specialties including Family Medicine, Pediatrics, OB/Women’s Health, Internal Medical and Optometry. We just added the OB element a couple of weeks ago and were recently asked about our ability to provide dental coders. They have consistently demonstrated high productivity and accuracy.
We are excited and up to the challenge to partner with facilities that want to grow and be successful!