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By AGS Health
August 23, 2022
“Health information management (HIM) is the practice of acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care. It is a combination of business, science, and information technology.” American Health Information Management Association(AHIMA)
“Health information management (HIM) is the practice of acquiring, analyzing, and protecting digital and traditional medical information vital to providing quality patient care. It is a combination of business, science, and information technology.”
Health information management (HIM) plays a vital role in mapping a successful future for healthcare. Once limited to medical coding, data analysis, and other administrative tasks, HIM has expanded to cover medical technologies, information digitization, and the proliferation of wearables. All of these have created new avenues for obtaining patient-generated data and are redefining how we think of HIM.
As a result, the responsibilities of HIM professionals have expanded to include information security (to maintain the confidentiality of medical records), as well as conducting research and driving innovation.
HIM professionals support the continuous improvement of medical coding by curating data for patient records. Documentation audits help to identify gaps in patient records, which then allows HIM professionals to curate data from other systems to fill the gaps.
Errors in medical coding can lead to:
All of these can be avoided with documentation audits, which identify and help to fill data gaps – reducing claim denials.
Medical providers and hospital executives understand that full reimbursement requires accuracy. Documentation audits are a crucial step in providers’ reimbursements. The transition to ICD-11 (International Classification of Disease, 11th version) will add a significant number of diagnoses, increasing from 14,000 in ICD-10 to more than 55,000 unique codes. Codes that medical coders will need to be aware of to prevent errors and missing documentation.
The transition to ICD-11 will require HIM professionals to monitor ICD-11 planning. Teams will need a clear understanding of the new code set. Now is the time to begin promoting ICD-11 education, training, and workforce development. This will ensure your team is well prepared for the transition. If teams aren’t prepared it could lead to increased denials and a decrease in reimbursements.
By establishing clinical documentation improvement (CDI) teams, HIM departments can ensure clinical documentation capture is prioritized. Comprehensive inpatient and outpatient documentation audits allow for:
This helps medical coders improve patient record keeping, facilitate timely claims payments, and drive better patient care.
According to a Technology Innovation in Healthcare Survey by HIMSS Media, 52% of respondents stated technology could improve the patient experience. Modernizing the delivery of care, leveraging technology, and innovation in healthcare are well received and have been embraced by the industry. However, many organizations are plagued with misaligned budgets and incentive systems which make it challenging for investments to occur.
Hospital budgets tend to be allocated to hospital units:
Because of this compartmentalized budget structure, it can be challenging to find the money needed to invest in technology. Operating budgets are notoriously strict as well. A lack of separation between operating and capital budget processes further complicates the situation.
Considering budget structures and constraints, HIM leaders must work with executives to fund medical record optimization technologies, such as documentation audits, to help reduce denials and ensure providers are fully reimbursed for services and revenue is contained.
Most CDI programs do not currently account for how their patient-centered approach affects patient acuity. Outside of value-based purchasing for hospitals, the importance of inpatient hierarchical condition categories (HCC) capture is undervalued. As attested by this article, a significant portion of patients are assigned HCCs from accountable care organizations (ACOs) and not from their primary care providers. As a result of the lack of HCCs on their patients, hospitals lose out on payments.
As of 2016, 58% of HCCs are complications/comorbidities (CCs) or their major variants (MCCs).As such, accurate inpatient coding can lead to better outpatient coding. This will increase HCC capture rates and improve the risk adjustment factor (RAF).
Today, healthcare systems include physician groups, acute care environments, hospitals – both small and large, multi-location facilities, and outpatient settings. Health information management documentation audits would be necessary for each system, depending on the organization and based on how best to improve compliance and reimbursements.
Electronic medical records (EMRs) can now be entered directly as text and coded. This simplifies the coding process for providers, but the lack of specificity in the codes chosen may result in incorrect reimbursement and compliance. In the future, HIM auditing practices will have to include regular auditing of EMRs to ensure medical coders and automated systems code accurately.
HIM professionals will continue to play a pivotal role in the healthcare industry as it adopts new technologies to ensure proper reimbursement and compliance.
AGS Health is more than a revenue cycle management company–we’re a strategic partner for growth. By blending technologies, services, and expert support, AGS Health partners with leading healthcare organizations across the US to deliver tailored solutions that solve the unique needs and challenges of each provider’s revenue cycle operations. The company leverages the latest advancements in automation, process excellence, security, and problem-solving through the use of technology and analytics–all made possible with college-educated, trained RCM experts. AGS Health employs more than 10,000 team members globally and partners with more than 100 clients across a variety of care settings, specialties, and billing systems.