The AAFP is offering members a free webinar about hierarchical condition category (HCC) coding that family physicians can't afford to miss. Register now(attendee.gotowebinar.com) for HCC Crash Course: Absorbing the Impact, scheduled for Nov. 16 at noon CST.
According to webinar co-presenter Barbie Hays, C.P.C., the AAFP's coding and compliance strategist, HCC codes are a tool Medicare and private insurance companies use "to compute future payments based on past performance."
HCC coding has been around for more than a decade. "Health care quality is not a new idea," Hays told AAFP News, but HCCs were developed as a way to communicate the intricacies of that concept -- with the help of computer technology -- through claims and documentation.
Initially, many people thought HCC coding was just going to be part of the advanced payment model established pursuant to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) or Medicare Advantage, said Hays.
"But what we're finding is that it is actually part of all the different equations associated with implementation of MACRA," she added.
"Eventually, these HCC codes will affect everyone, so learn how to use them now," said Hays. "Be specific in your diagnosis coding because this will affect your payments and your bottom line."
Hays used a hypothetical example of a patient with diabetes. If the patient develops neuropathy or nephropathy, he or she "is going to require many more resources -- not only office resources, but physician resources," she said. "And if our physicians don't learn to report those things accurately and specifically, they're going to lose out."
"This is really a deeper dive into HCC coding," Hays said. She noted that the AAFP has released other helpful coding resources in the recent past, but that this webinar is about getting physicians to take that next step.
Hays will co-present with Samuel Church, M.D., M.P.H., a family physician in private practice in rural Hiawassee, Ga. His practice is recognized as a level-three patient-centered medical home. Among his other roles, Church serves on the AAFP's Commission on Finance and Insurance and is the AAFP's alternate adviser to the AMA's CPT editorial panel.
With his wealth of experience, Church, who is also a certified risk adjustment coder, will provide webinar participants with a physician's perspective on how to code for complex patient care.
He told AAFP News that in the past, "coding with HCC in mind simply added to administrative burdens without affecting my short-term revenue or benefiting patients."
However, "As new rules are being implemented, the HCC coding is much more relevant, with real dollars connected to how we code."
Church added that it's important for physicians to become more aware of conditions that are risk-adjusted.
"Most doctors are not ICD-10 experts. There are simply some additional codes that better describe many conditions that we manage, because too often, professional coders are unable to extract codes from our notes.
"We need to update our knowledge base so our notes and language more clearly reflect these conditions," he said.
The hourlong webinar will include time for questions at the end. Physicians who are unable to attend the webinar will have access to an archived version on the AAFP website.
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