COVID-19: How Should Remote Coders Adapt to This New Situation

by | May 7, 2020 | Resources | 0 comments

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in many people working from home and medical coders are no exception. Remote work has been on the rise for years in many companies and some offer it as a benefit to employees for a better work-life balance. Here, in medical coding and billing work, remote working is a good fit as you can enjoy a flexible schedule and work from the comfort of your home. Experienced medical coding companies provide work from home facilities to their coders so that they can work remotely. However, not everyone may enjoy it, especially during this challenging time.

The daily duties of a medical coder and biller include the following tasks:

  • Analyze patient records, including diagnosis and treatment
  • Convert diagnosis and treatment descriptions to standardized medical codes
  • Use standardized medical codes to invoice patients and submit claims to insurers
  • Work closely with doctors and assistants to ensure the accuracy of coding
  • Submit claims to insurers and follow up on payments
  • Submit invoices to be paid by patients
  • Interact with patients regarding insurance and billing matters

As COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing throughout the world, telemedicine has emerged as an important tool to better care for people who have contracted the virus. Providers need to know the rules for using telehealth to care for patients, including the relevant codes and how to bill telemedicine visits. As Medicare and commercial payers have specific payment requirements for virtual visits and as rules are being constantly changed due to COVID-19, the support of an experienced medical coder from a medical billing and coding outsourcing company could prove very useful especially for physicians to get reimbursed for several services and in this circumstances, COVID-19 related telemedicine services.

To many coders, working from home sounds like a dream job as there are many advantages of remote working, such as:

  • Availability to work from home or other remote site
  • Flexible schedules
  • No commuting costs, so gas and car maintenance are eliminated
  • More personal and family time
  • No professional work wardrobe required, which can save you money
  • Improves productivity as it allows autonomy
  • Less stressful, as there is no micromanaging

But it is not for everyone, especially for those whose family members have lost their jobs and children are now home for the entire day because of school closures during this pandemic. Additionally, working remotely can create loneliness and loss of the social network that many enjoy at the workplace. Some coders even might miss taking a breather to walk down to the café for a coffee or snack break.

Here are a few tips that may help remote coders:

  • Calendar Scheduling: Keep a simple calendar schedule that will block out time to work easier. It helps to relive stress. You don’t have to walk to a physical store for getting a calendar, Microsoft Word has many calendar formats available for daily, weekly, or monthly planning. While blocking out time for work, make sure to block out time for your children and family as it will also help pull everyone in the household together.
  • Stay Organized with A Routine: Stick to the same schedule you had before the pandemic even if you don’t have to go to office physically. Sticking to the routine will make it easier to transition outside the home again when life returns to normal. Even if you don’t have wake up early in the morning to get yourself and your family ready for the day, don’t fall into the bad habit of staying up late and sleeping past your normal schedule.
  • Stay Flexible: As this is new territory for offices, providers, and coders, confirm your required hours with your employer. It helps to avoid conflicts with computer server backups and system availability. Finding eight straight hours to work during the day may not be possible and you may need to work in several blocks of time. Assure your employer that you will be able to work the required time, but it may not be consecutive hours.
  • Get Time for Your Children: Even if you’re working remotely, don’t neglect your children. Find time to get involved with your children too. Get the help of older children in your family to monitor the younger children. Look to the younger children for their creativity and appreciate their work. Offer younger children a reimbursement chart of stickers or gold stars for good behavior while you are working. When the ban is lifted, they can turn in their points for ice cream or a picnic in the park with friends. Similarly, create a chart for future reimbursement as an incentive to help your teenage children since they cannot work right now and are not allowed to flock socially. Offer them Xbox points or gift cards, add money into their savings accounts, or chart points that can be turned in for movie tickets or sleepovers when the bans are lifted.
  • Manage and Reduce your Stress: Even though normally, working from home offers many benefits, from increased productivity to better work-life balance, this situation isn’t normal. Many businesses have had to transition practically overnight to a fully remote workforce. During this challenging time, you might be experiencing a lot of emotion, commotion, fear, and stress due to the loss of normalcy; the fear of economic toll and the loss of connection. All you can do to manage your stress is take care of yourself, your friends, and your family.Take small breaks from your work, and try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. If you are sharing space with another family member, who is trying to get work or schoolwork completed, create a curtain to divide the area or wear headphones with comforting music to help you successfully share your space.
    Take a few minutes in the morning and evening to sit on the porch, enjoy nature, and calm your nerves. Or, take a walk alone or with your family to de-stress. Try to keep your mind engaged.

Apart from this tip, to be truly successful at any remote billing and/or coding position, one must always ensure that they adhere to the “Golden Rules of Remote Work”, which include:

  • Be result-oriented
  • Maintain self-discipline
  • Get up the same time daily and get dressed as if you had to leave the house (unless you’re sick)
  • Be an independent worker and manage time well
  • Stay organized
  • Have a separate home office from the rest of your home

Tailor the most effective way of working for you and keep practicing until it becomes part of a lifestyle or culture. However, even if it’s remote working, all employees need to stay compliant with HIPAA privacy and security requirements just as in the office. Experienced medical billing and coding outsourcing companies have stringent measures in place to ensure that all personal health information (PHI) they receive remains secure and confidential.

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