Widespread use of computer assisted coding has been seen throughout physician offices and outpatients services, but is it ready for inpatient use?  More and more hospitals are witnessing the success rate and improved benefits of computer assisted coding (CAC) technology and are paying attention to the results.  The interest has been peaked and now hospitals and inpatient services are investigating further if this type of system is right for them.

Inpatient care is extremely complex. Many hospital administrators and specialists have wondered about the adaptability of CAC in this type of environment; however, a few hospitals have taken the risk and rolled out CAC across the board.  Now that some hospitals are paving the way, more are taking the plunge and implementing computer assisted coding technology.

Differences in Use

Many physician offices and outpatient services utilize computer assisted coding without the help of human intervention.  This type of technology can be implemented and carried out without human involvement, or at the very least, minimal involvement.  Some clinics use human coders to verify accuracy only when involving them in the CAC progress; although this is not the case for hospital or outpatient use.

Many of the hospitals who have adapted computer assisted coding, do so with human involvement.  They are reluctant to remove themselves from the equation because of the complexity of inpatient services.  Some of the latest CAC technology is beginning to use natural language processing to extract the codes and terms that were not automated in the past.  Because of this new technology, human intervention is not as crucial.

The coding process is becoming increasingly automated through the use of natural language processing, which helps relieve some of the accuracy burden and need for human intervention.  There are many big-named hospitals using this form of technology. Yale-New Haven, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and the Baltimore, Maryland-based Johns Hopkins University are just some of the medical centers who have successfully implemented CAC technology with amazing results.

The Improvement of Productivity

Productivity within the coding process is always a concern.  The larger the case load, the less time a coder has to process the claims.  Through the use of computer assisted coding in inpatient service providers, productivity can be improved significantly.  The amount of time spent coding or finding procedural codes is dramatically reduced.

Eastern Maine Medical Center recently adapted computer assisted coding technology and reported that its average turnaround decreased per hour by as much as fifteen percent.  This is a huge improvement to productivity for the hospital, which also reported dropping its days in accounts receivable by nearly seven percent.  Coding staff decreased by one entire full-time employee, reducing costs for the hospital.

Across the board, hospitals and medical centers that implemented computer assisted coding for inpatient services showed an increase in productivity and a decrease in the lag time throughout the process.  With productivity improved, revenue and resources have also gained – putting the hospitals back in the black.  This is much needed for healthcare and provides good news across the industry.