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Shifting your medical coding staff to remote work during the COVID-19 pandemic

Insight Article - March 30, 2020

Performance Management

Practice Efficiency

Veronica Bradley CPC, CPMA
Teleworking or telecommuting is not new to medical coders but has increased dramatically in the past month due to COVID-19.

The main reason for teleworking is to minimize risk of exposure to COVID-19, but there are many components to consider when implementing remote work in medical coding.

The information coders access when teleworking is very sensitive and private should be treated as such. There are steps any organization can take to meet the needs and challenges of teleworking:
  • Have a policy in place which should denote requirements for eligible employees to work from home and have the employee and their supervisor/manager sign and date the agreement.
  • Encourage coders to clearly define the room or space allowed to use as workspace.
  • Make sure equipment requirements is defined to include but not limited to:
    • Computer
    • Printer
    • Paper shredder to maintain HIPAA compliance (if allowed)
    • Locking filing cabinet
  • Indicate a work schedule to include days and times the employee can work remotely. This clarifies overtime, flex or split shift options, etc. 
  • Malware and encryption software should be installed prior to installing or uploading to an EHR.
  • Most organizations require their Information technology department to run full diagnostics on employee’s computer to see if it is HIPAA compliant.
  • Identify ways communication will be conveyed from employee to leadership. such as email or virtual meetings.
  • Review workflows with coders to ensure they are performing optimally with company’s expectations.
  • Coders should have electronic applications that assist with coding, such as CCI edits, encoders, coding guidelines, etc.
  • Make sure to touch base with staff to make certain work is complete, timelines met and maintain relationships with one another.
As a seasoned medical coder and auditor, I feel that it is important to establish parameters while working remotely. Have clear requirements and discuss to ensure staff understand them.

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About the Author

Veronica Bradley
Veronica Bradley CPC, CPMA
Senior Industry Advisor MGMA Englewood, CO

Veronica Bradley, CPC, CPMA, is a Senior Industry Advisor with MGMA and is CPC and CPMA certified. She has over 20 years’ experience in medical coding and auditing in various specialties. She is also well-versed hierarchical condition category and risk adjustment coding. Other areas of expertise include evaluation and management, procedural coding, Medicare reimbursement, and other critical factors in coding and auditing. Veronica has worked in private practice, group practices, academic school of medicine and hospitals. She focuses on educating based coding guidelines and code capture accuracy for all medical practice staff and believes coders must build rapport with healthcare providers to ensure healthy communication as necessary in the charge capture process.

Veronica received a bachelor’s degree from Regis University in Denver, Colorado in Health Information Management with a minor in Healthcare Administration. In her free time, Veronica appreciates spending time with her family enjoying the beautiful Colorado scenery.

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