OLVH Honored as Top Coding Hospital

"Top 200 Report" recognizes hospitals with the most complete and compliant coding

Ingenix, a health information, technology and consulting company based in Eden Prairie, Minn, recently released its fifth annual report on the “Top 200 Coding Hospitals in the U.S.,” ranking hospitals according to the completeness and accuracy of their medical coding practices used to bill Medicare for inpatient medical services. Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Stanley was one of the hospitals honored.

According to Ingenix, “This year’s Top 200 report identifies hospitals that have adapted best to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ updated policies, including a new Medicare payment methodology, reduced payment for hospital-acquired conditions, and increased pressure for correct coding via its Recovery Audit Contractors program.”

Consultants from the Ingenix Health Information Management division reviewed and ranked 4,607 U.S. hospitals within their peer groups and identified overall top performers. The result is a list of major and minor teaching hospitals, urban non-teaching hospitals and rural hospitals in the nation with the most complete and compliant coding practices.

Medical coding describes how hospitals transform descriptions of medical diagnoses and procedures from a number of sources into universal medical code numbers. These codes are used by government health programs, private health insurance companies, workers' compensation carriers and others for things like statistical analyses of diseases and therapeutic actions, reimbursement; knowledge-based and decision support systems, and surveillance of epidemic or pandemic outbreaks.

Cindy Eichman, president of OLVH said, “Much of the credit for this honor goes to Julie Haglund RHIT, CCS, and her team.” Julie is the Coding and Compliance Manager. She oversees the coding functions at the hospital and VMG clinics. She has more than 24 years experience in the coding field, and has been a Registered Health Information Technician since 1984 and a Certified Coding Specialist since 1999. She has been with the organization for 14 years.

Julie works with a team of seven coders who, in addition to coding, wear many different hats within the organization.  The inpatient coder works at both OLVH and remotely for Howard Young Health Care in Woodruff.

Julie explains her changing role, saying, “Coding practices are continually evolving, and this evolution has brought a greater emphasis on quality and compliance. There are always new diseases and procedures to learn and stricter regulatory requirements to comply with. When I first started, diagnoses and procedure indexing was the main purpose for assigning codes.

“Today coding has become a process to determine if the clinical picture documented in the chart was reflected by the diagnoses coded. The implementation of DRGs changed coding assumptions and required coders to know which DRG paid the most so the hospital could be reimbursed properly. The integrity of coded data and the ability to turn it into functional information requires all our coders to consistently apply the same official coding rules, conventions, guidelines, and definitions.  The integrity of the data is critical for healthcare delivery, reimbursement, compliance, research, statistics, marketing, planning, and comparative analysis of facility performance.”

Julie said that the hospital was pleased to be recognized by Ingenix. “We are honored to receive this designation especially in view of the many changes implemented by Medicare in October of 2007 which made our coders’ work more complex. I am delighted to work with a great group of professionals that strive to achieve such excellence.”

Cindy added, “Hospitals don’t compete to be on this Top 200 list – they are each evaluated on their own merits. We were extremely pleased to be recognized for the accuracy and completeness of this very important and complex healthcare function.”

More information about Ingenix can be obtained at http://www.ingenix.com.

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