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J Vasc Surg. 2018 Nov;68(5):1524-1532. doi: 10.1016/j.jvs.2018.02.038. Epub 2018 May 4.

A physician-led initiative to improve clinical documentation results in improved health care documentation, case mix index, and increased contribution margin.

Author information

1
Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass. Electronic address: francesco.aiello@umassmemorial.org.
2
Division of Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, University of Massachusetts Medical School, Worcester, Mass.

Abstract

INTRODUCTION:

Clinical documentation is the key determinant of inpatient acuity of illness and payer reimbursement. Every inpatient hospitalization is placed into a diagnosis related group with a relative value based on documented procedures, conditions, comorbidities and complications. The Case Mix Index (CMI) is an average of these diagnosis related groups and directly impacts physician profiling, medical center profiling, reimbursement, and quality reporting. We hypothesize that a focused, physician-led initiative to improve clinical documentation of vascular surgery inpatients results in increased CMI and contribution margin.

METHODS:

A physician-led coding initiative to educate physicians on the documentation of comorbidities and conditions was initiated with concurrent chart review sessions with coding specialists for 3 months, and then as needed, after the creation of a vascular surgery documentation guide. Clinical documentation and billing for all carotid endarterectomy (CEA) and open infrainguinal procedures (OIPs) performed between January 2013 and July 2016 were stratified into precoding and postcoding initiative groups. Age, duration of stay, direct costs, actual reimbursements, contribution margin (CM), CMI, rate of complication or comorbidity, major complication or comorbidity, severity of illness, and risk of mortality assigned to each discharge were abstracted. Data were compared over time by standardizing Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) values for each diagnosis related group and using a CMS base rate reimbursement.

RESULTS:

Among 458 CEA admissions, postcoding initiative CEA patients (n = 253) had a significantly higher CMI (1.36 vs 1.25; P = .03), CM ($7859 vs $6650; P = .048), and CMS base rate reimbursement ($8955 vs $8258; P = .03) than precoding initiative CEA patients (n = 205). The proportion of admissions with a documented major complication or comorbidity and complication or comorbidity was significantly higher after the coding initiative (43% vs 27%; P < .01). Among 504 OIPs, postcoding initiative patients (n = 227) had a significantly higher CMI (2.23 vs 2.05; P < .01), actual reimbursement ($23,203 vs $19,909; P < .01), CM ($12,165 vs $8840; P < .01), and CMS base rate reimbursement ($14,649 vs $13,496; P < .01) than precoding initiative patients (n = 277). The proportion of admissions with a documented major complication or comorbidity and complication or comorbidity was significantly higher after the coding initiative (61% vs 43%; P < .01). For both CEA and OIPs, there were no differences in age, duration of stay, total direct costs, or primary insurance status between the precoding and postcoding patient groups.

CONCLUSIONS:

Accurate and detailed clinical documentation is required for key stakeholders to characterize the acuity of inpatient admissions and ensure appropriate reimbursement; it is also a key component of risk-adjustment methods for assessing quality of care. A physician-led documentation initiative significantly increased CMI and CM.

KEYWORDS:

Blling and coding; Documentation; Reimbursement; Vascular surgery

PMID:
29735302
DOI:
10.1016/j.jvs.2018.02.038
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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