The more intricate the system, the more important it is to be able to identify patterns. Take radiology coding—already complex, it’s about to get more so with the ICD-10 changeover. But when you can sort through data to see the underlying patterns, it’s significantly easier to promote efficiency that may lead to accurate reimbursement.
The first step is moving communication between coders and radiologists away from manual systems like email and fax. With an automated system, such as a QICS, coders query physicians about tests or procedures by placing a notation in the system that immediately appears on the correct physician’s work list.
Notations are time stamped so turnaround times can be tracked. The radiology coding system can be set up to alert the physician about aging items and to alert his/her supervisor in the case of a problematic delay. This not only can help streamline workflow, it also may beef up compliance efforts.
But the true value comes in having data on missed codes and other radiology coding issues that can be sorted by physician, modality, time frame and coder. Standard reports show department executives which coders need additional training, which physicians are consistently slow to respond to queries, and which procedures are problematic in terms of coding.
“In my meetings with doctors, they always ask for continued education,” says April Hughes, national account manager for McKesson QICS™ (Qualitative Information Communication System). “Physicians do their best to keep up with the latest code changes, but it’s not easy. A tool like QICS helps identify which codes are frequently missed and can help speed up communication so claims may be processed faster and more accurately.”
Hughes notes that automated systems also ease the pain during times of change:
- By organizing radiology coding communication and displaying patterns of missed/incorrect codes, the system can supplement training and help smooth the ICD-10 transition.
- When departments add a modality (e.g., interventional), QICS’s Managed Services group can customize the coding panel to reflect the new procedures and create prompts to help coders as they get up to speed (entering a certain code triggers a prompt to add a related one).
- Reports on radiology coding discrepancies can serve as a complement to classroom-style training and help identify coders doing an outstanding job so they can be recognized.
In short, a comprehensive physician query system can be a boon to radiology departments, breaking down communication barriers, supporting compliance and fostering accurate, timely reimbursement.