Health Information Management

Topic: Consider using an exam before hiring coders

HIM-HIPAA Insider, June 26, 2007

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Requiring candidates to complete a coding exam before hiring them could help you weed out the skilled from the not-so-skilled. The test does not need to be professional, but it does require careful selection. For example, use records that are common to your facility. The records should encompass varying degrees of difficulty. Be sure to choose a record type for which each applicant will likely code during the course of a regular business day.

For a test that consists of 10 inpatient records, assume that it will take the candidate three hours to complete. For a test that consists of 10 ambulatory surgery cases, assume two to two and a quarter hours. For a test that consists of 10 emergency department encounters, assume one to one and a half hours. For a test that consists of 10 ancillary tests/procedures, assume one hour or less.

Advise the applicant of the time commitment so that he or she can plan their time accordingly. Don't rush the applicant through the test. Remember that developing a test like this will allow you to judge a candidate's coding, thought process, thoroughness, and speed. Furthermore. it will help objectively measure an applicant's abilities.

Editor's note: This article was adapted from HCPro's book More With Less, Second Edition. For more information or to order, click here.

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