Take your coding to a whole new level by getting more done in less time.
Coding professionals face a new landscape in today’s evolving job market where productivity and results are the main drivers behind the operational and financial health of the organizations they support. With artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) advancing at a rapid rate, it is imperative that coding professionals remain competitive and are equipped with strategies to increase their productivity while maintaining quality and accuracy.
The Measure of Success
Productivity is measured by how much work you complete in a given time period. For coding professionals, this usually pertains to the number of surgeries/procedures or evaluation and management (E/M) encounters coded, records audited, providers educated, corrective action plans issued, and so forth.
Efficiency, on the other hand, focuses on the resources required to get a task done and the quality of the output. For coding professionals, this mostly pertains to how much time is spent on the task, the internal/external sources utilized, and the technology required.
Striking a healthy balance between productivity and efficiency proves to be tricky, even for the most seasoned coding professionals. Simply put, coding 100 encounters per day looks great on paper, but if 25 of those encounters are rejected for coding-related errors, then the quantity produced becomes meaningless because the quality is compromised.
As a veteran coding professional with over a decade of industry experience, I have curated the following list of 10 pro tips to guide you through the steps required to upgrade your productivity and efficiency:
1. Implement effective strategies: These represent your plan of attack to get things done. A few of my tried and true are:
- Always start off your day with the end goal in mind. At the end of the day, what measure will give you a sense of accomplishment?
- Implement a bucketing system for all tasks. Break down tasks into reasonable time increments. This system allows you to categorize and move through task lists faster and more efficiently.
2. Get a desk calendar: Having a desk calendar enables you to see everything on paper and when it needs to be done. You will gain clarity by identifying each task you want to check off your daily, weekly, or monthly list. Then, work relentlessly to complete them.
3. Deconstruct every task and subtask: Complex tasks tend to have multiple steps, so it’s imperative to break down every task and subtask to conceptualize the action plan required to complete them. Deconstructing every task will help you forecast the time needed to complete the tasks without compromising quality.
4. Set measurable daily goals: Saying you want to code faster or be more productive is not enough. You need to establish parameters and quantify what it is you want to achieve so that it can be measured. Examples of measurable goals:
- Code 30 encounters, with a 98 percent accuracy rate, before I take my first break for the day.
- Audit three providers per day to ensure I meet my goal of auditing 15 providers per week.
5. Eliminate distractions: Notifications are everywhere, and it is easy to get sucked into the endless stream of distractions. How much screen time did you have in the last week? This question can reveal much about your productivity and priorities. Block off time in your calendar for distraction-free grind sessions.
6. Don’t place quantity over quality: Quantity is no good without quality. Poor quality work can have systemic effects on an organization’s bottom line and require added time, money, and resources to resolve. With the rise of production-based coding quotas, it is imperative that coding professionals advocate for themselves when they are not able to balance quality and quantity. Every coding specialty is unique and requires different skills and time considerations.
7. Embrace automation: Work smarter, not harder, by automating routine tasks. Leverage tools like templates, ticklers, calendar invites, standardized emails, reporting capabilities, copy/paste functionality, and spreadsheets. If you find yourself habitually sending the same email or feel like you are constantly reinventing the wheel, it’s a good sign that it’s time to automate.
8. Reverse engineer your week: Reflect on your previous week to evaluate what worked and what didn’t. Identify which tasks you were not able to complete and what prevented you from completing them. This self-reflection will allow you to troubleshoot areas that need attention, identify improvement opportunities, and set thoughtful intentions for the upcoming week.
9. Run the day; don’t let the day run you: Time will get away from you very quickly if you let it. Be intent on taking control of your day — it is fundamental to increasing productivity and efficiency. Just because you are doing a lot of things doesn’t mean you are getting a lot more done!
10. Act with accountability in mind: The fastest way to achieve a goal is to tell someone else about it. The very act of revealing a goal to another person will obligate you to complete the necessary steps to achieve it. It is human nature to perform better under observation. When you are held accountable, you will instinctively work harder.
A New Day
Increased productivity requirements don’t have to mean increased stress and worry. By using these strategies, you can get a handle on making the most of your time to meet your daily challenges.
AAPC’s annual salary survey gives a good understanding of the earning potential within the medical coding profession.
See what actually is going on in the healthcare business job market.