I was deeply concerned to read your article "Flipped out over outpatient PPS" (Nov. 20, p. 30). The article contained the comment that if coders don't understand the new prospective payment system, then "no computer billing system in the world can overcome their ignorance."
Oh please. If you know anything about the real world, you would understand coders can "translate" only what physicians document; documentation is the key to success, not just coding.
Our health system prepared for well more than a year for the implementation of the outpatient PPS. Coding quality and accuracy were focuses. We provided more than 20 educational conferences for our coders, and had more than 900 attendees. Time and again we heard from the coders that they would like to code all this information, but the physicians do not document enough for them to comply.
Coders are hardworking and dedicated. Compliance and financial issues make their jobs very difficult. If you ever wonder why there is a shortage of coders, it's because of the lack of respect they receive.
St. John Health System