A Cordis-Sponsored Seminar on Reimbursement Makes an Impact


Matthew R. Petkus, MBA, RT(R)(CV), Manager Cardiac Services, Halifax Medical Center, Daytona Beach, Florida

As a new manager in the cardiology department at Halifax Medical Center as of February 2003, I focused my initial efforts on understanding how my department operated, on both a clinical and financial basis. Since fiscal responsibility is often how the success or failure of hospital programs is measured, I felt it was very important for me to quickly ascertain how my departments were coding, charging, and being reimbursed. After a few weeks of evaluating the processes in place, I knew there were missed opportunities for reimbursement, but did not have a clear idea or plan for how to approach fixing the problems. When I went into the healthcare field I never knew I would need to become an expert coder. Some outside expertise was needed.

The local Cordis representative made me aware of a coding seminar that was to be sponsored by Johnson & Johnson, with expert keynote speakers in the areas of invasive cardiovascular coding and reimbursement. The program included sessions on coding with case-by-case examples, and discussions on opportunities within an organization for capturing lost reimbursement. Not knowing if anything valuable could be gained from this seminar, and knowing that vendor-sponsored speakers can be too subjective at times, I still felt there was more to lose by not attending.

The seminar was held March 13 in a small conference room at a hotel a few minutes from downtown Orlando, Florida. From the moment I sat down at a table and began to scan over the printed material that had been provided, I knew I had made the right decision.

In the morning sessions, the speakers covered all aspects of how to code properly, what to look for, what to be aware of and how to decipher the monotony of numbers and definitions. By the end of the morning session I had scribbled at least three to four pages of notes on changes I wanted to make in my own department.

The afternoon session was equally fruitful. The afternoon speaker discussed strategies within the hospital to evaluate and implement changes that can have a tremendous impact on how hospitals are paid for their services. Again, I came away with two to three pages of written notes and ideas.

I left the conference feeling both overwhelmed and excited, knowing that there were a lot of changes that needed to take place in my own organization. A statement made by one of the speakers really stuck out in my mind and added to my resolve to do something. She stated that too often in health care, clinical staff becomes too complacent in understanding their own environment for reimbursement. Having training so focused on the clinical care of the patients, hospital staff lean too heavily on others, especially coders and finance personnel, to determine if a department is making the right decisions in how its billing processes are established.

I made it my goal over the next few weeks to learn everything I possibly could about invasive cardiovascular coding and use that knowledge to create an accurate billing system that reflected all the services provided by my department and the Medicare-acceptable coding for those services. I used the printed material provided by Cordis at the seminar as my coding bible.

One month after the seminar, a review was conducted by the coding department here at Halifax and I was given the green light to implement all the changes. Since that time, my department has realized a significant gain in capturable reimbursement, at least a 25 percent increase, because of these changes. My staff more readily recognizes the value in what they do. With a more clearly structured billing format and meetings to discuss the changes, the staff realizes the importance of getting things right the first time around. Also, making myself available to answer billing questions, especially after complex cases, and providing on-the-spot education, helps to disseminate the information as quickly as possible.

After having such a beneficial experience with the Cordis-sponsored seminar, I think interventional cardiovascular staff should take full advantage of the tremendous resources available to us through vendors. Approach vendors and ask what programs are available to you and the staff. Whether the topic is clinical, reimbursement, quality improvement or technology, often these companies are more than willing to share their expertise. The more information you have about the factors that influence the success of your cardiovascular program, the better prepared you will be to quickly adapt to changes and continue to implement quality, cost-effective cardiac services.

Don't miss out on your free chance to learn about invasive cardiovascular coding and reimbursement!

For 2004, Cordis Corporation will be hosting FREE Coding & Reimbursement seminars in the following cities:

January: Indianapolis, Chicago

February: Pittsburgh, Philadelphia

March: Miami, New Orleans, Cleveland, Detroit

April: Phoenix, Los Angeles

May: Charlotte

Dates to be announced: Oklahoma City, Memphis

You can register for these events by calling (800) 252-9094, ext. 226


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