Best Practices for a Remote Health Information Management Workforce
While remote clinical coding is not a new concept, the COVID-19 induced lockdowns have fast-tracked the development of remote Health Information Service (HIS) departments across Australia.
The big shift from an onsite operation to a work-from-home environment had to happen to help ensure patient and employee safety. However, it also posed new challenges for many Health Information Service (HIS) teams.
Key Challenges Faced By A Remote HIS Department Workforce
Having a virtual workforce means Health Information Managers (HIMs) have to adjust workflows to accommodate employee needs while ensuring performance targets are met..
The change in workflows also tends to affect clinical coding efficiency, thereby creating potential backlogs resulting in potential loss in optimisation. HIMs also need to adapt their leadership style, putting more focus on communication, workload balance and the continuous education and training of their clinical coders.
HIS departments are likely to remain in a remote structure in a post-pandemic economy. Whether you’re transitioning your HIS team to a virtual environment now or are already considering the possibility of making your team permanently remote, here are some of the best practices to help you support an efficient and effective virtual HIS department.
Effective work allocation
Identify the most efficient remote workflow for your staff to ensure your coders and auditors have a list of work to do each day.
An effective work allocation process should enable coders and auditors to complete tasks on time, communicate more efficiently and deliver quality coded data on time, every time. It’s important to set the right expectations from the outset and empower HIS teams to meet their coding and auditing deadlines.
When it comes to work allocation, monitoring progress is extremely important. For coders and auditors, this means being able to review their work and the time spent on each task so they can gain performance benchmarks from which they can improve. For HIMs, this provides overview and transparency throughout the time they are providing tasks and as to where further focus can be allocated.
Code Focus, for example, is a cloud-based clinical auditing tool that allows your HIS team to access their data from anywhere, at any time.
It also allows HIMs to utilise worklists so they can prioritise and allocate high-value coding and auditing work. This means coders can then simply log in each day and view a concise list of episodes to be coded, improving their productivity while providing more value to your healthcare organisation.
Clear communication between team members
Clear and open communication is critical especially in a remote work environment with ever-changing schedules, coding guidelines and patient volumes.
It helps sustain productivity and develop the performance of your coders.
By keeping the lines of communication open, HIMs can support coders and auditors, giving them opportunities to ask questions and receive feedback instantaneously to continuously improve their standard of work.
As you build your remote team, look for solutions that will allow Health Information Managers and clinical coders to learn and grow. For instance, Code Focus provides a real-time coder-auditor-coder feedback loop. It maintains a full history of every coding change that takes place and allows users to add comments to codes and detail their reasons for changes.
Clinical coders can then log in and access all this feedback to further their education and apply their learnings to reduce future errors, increasing the quality of the coded data.
Optimised Workflow Management
Fine-tuning your task and workflow management is also essential in ensuring the efficiency of teams, especially in remote work environments.
Managers should be able to track the progress of an item and ensure work targets and expectations are met by the coders and auditors. They should also have the ability to analyse the time spent on each activity and evaluate each workflow. Providing this kind of visibility to a manager will allow them to define gaps, determine potential solutions to ensure workforce efficiency, or justify needs for additional resources.
Code Focus helps HIS teams optimise their workflow management by giving HIMs the ability to receive real-time updates as episodes are discharged and coded. It also assists in queries management, enabling HIMs to track the status of documentation queries, analyse commonly sent queries and review clinician and specialty documentation performance.
A remote Health Information Management workforce has already become a reality for many healthcare organisations. Managing each workflow, keeping the communication lines open, and investing in the right technology will help ensure your teams continue to stay productive and deliver quality clinical coded data for your organisation.
Is your remote Health Information Services department able to consistently meet their targets and deliver high-quality coded data? Automate and streamline clinical coding allocation, and ensure workforce efficiency.
Book a demo today to learn more about how Code Focus works.