Health Information Management

Case Study

JustCoding News: Inpatient, September 16, 2009

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Remote coding: How one facility implemented a program to improve productivity, recruit and retain staff members

Anissa Fabrizio, RHIA, CCS, administrative director of HIM and patient access at St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, CO, says remote coding has greatly increased coder productivity. Fabrizio spoke during the August 18 HCPro audio conference, “Benchmarking Coder Productivity to Improve Efficiency and Justify FTEs.”

Fabrizio said her hospital implemented a remote coding program in 2002. Currently, nine out of the department’s 10 coders work from home.

St. Anthony Central Hospital provides remote coders with a laptop and docking station, dual screen monitors, and Internet access. Although the program has been expensive, Fabrizio said it has made recruiting coders much easier.

“We’re in a very competitive market here in Denver with the other facilities in town, and almost all of them offer remote coding,” she said.

To keep up with its competitors, the hospital knew it had to jump on board with a remote option, she added.

Although remote coding has generally increased productivity, directors need to keep in mind that every coder may not be eligible to participate in such a program, Fabrizio says. Coders who work remotely should be able to prove that they are disciplined. They should also ensure that the environment in which they will work includes few interruptions, she said. Those who care for children or elderly relatives may not be able to accomplish their work within specified timeframes, she added.

However, for a disciplined coder whose home office has few distractions, working remotely has many benefits. At St. Anthony, remote coders have plenty of flexibility. There are fewer sick days and less time wasted commuting. The coders are able to run errands for an hour or two and then return home to finish up the day, Fabrizio said.

“It’s been a win/win for both the coders and the facility,” she said.



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