How clinical documentation impacts revenue cycle management

Clinical documentation is key to capturing a patient’s condition, but do you know just how much it can impact an organization’s reimbursement?

While clinical documentation is essential to capture a patient’s condition, it also supports another critical aspect of healthcare: reimbursement.

Payers rely on precise clinical terminology, accurately mapped to standard administrative codes, to determine appropriate levels of reimbursement. However, achieving precise documentation is an added administrative burden for clinicians.  

In our on-demand webinar, Undercoded & underpaid: Making it easier to document to optimize reimbursement, IMO experts discuss how imprecise coding can impact an organization’s bottom line and how an EHR-integrated solution can help simplify the process for those documenting at the point of care.

For key takeaways and clips from the webinar, continue reading below.

From clinical documentation at the point of care to claims

One must begin at the point of care to better understand how revenue cycle management within healthcare relies on accurate coding. When a healthcare service occurs, the provider completes clinical documentation describing their patient’s condition. Ideally, the clinical terminology used during that documentation is linked to the accurate primary and secondary standard codes required for claims, and all the appropriate charges are captured.

However, as the revenue cycle continues along to claims management, denials may occur if important secondary codes and Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCCs) are missing. This roadblock to payment creates additional work for clinical administrators who must track down the missing codes, apply them to the documentation, and resubmit the claim.

June Bronnert, MSHI, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, VP of Global Clinical Services at IMO and one of the speakers on the webinar, further explores how clinical documentation impacts several areas that are important to revenue cycle management – from healthcare service, to code assignment, to claims management and analytics.

How undercoding leaves an organization underpaid

While secondary codes may seem minor, they can dramatically impact payments. Consider a patient who is immunocompromised with COVID-19. As a provider documents this condition, they will likely see the primary ICD-10-CM code listed for each description.

Diagnosis ICD-10-CM
COVID-19 U07.1
Immunodeficiency, unspecified D84.9

However, by employing a third-party solution that automatically maps each description to the accurate secondary codes, providers can easily capture specificity in the EHR without adding to the burden of clinical documentation.

For example, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) HCC code associated with the above patient’s condition would be HCC47: Disorders of immunity. Yet, in the absence of a third-party integration designed to capture that code at the point of care, the potential for reimbursement can go down, and the risk of a denied claim can go up.

Without specificity With specificity
No HCC HCC47: Disorders of Immunity
Risk Adjustment Factor: 0 Risk Adjustment Factor: .664
RAF score difference: .664
Annual expected expenditure difference: $6,219

Bronnert, further explains this example of how CMS HCC specificity can impact an organization’s Risk Adjustment Factor (RAF) scores and reimbursement.

To learn how IMO can help your organization capture the secondary codes critical to your bottom line:

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