Physician code creep after the initiation of outpatient volume control program and implications for appropriate ICD-10-CM coding

Fu Wen Liang, Liang Yi Wang, Lin Yi Liu, Chung Yi Li, Tsung Hsueh Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Most studies on the physician code creep (i.e., changes in case mix record-keeping practices to improve reimbursement) have focused on episodes (inpatient hospitalizations or outpatient procedures). Little is known regarding changes in diagnostic coding practices for better reimbursement among a fixed cohort of patients with chronic diseases. Methods: To examine whether physicians in tertiary medical centers changed their coding practices after the initiation of the Outpatient Volume Control Program (OVCP) in Taiwan, we conducted a retrospective observational study of four patient cohorts (two interventions and two controls) from January 2016 to September 2017 in Taiwan. The main outcomes were the number of outpatient visits with four coding practices: 1) OVCP monitoring code recorded as primary diagnosis; 2) OVCP monitoring code recorded as secondary diagnosis; 3) non-OVCP monitoring code recorded as primary diagnosis; 4) non-OVCP monitoring code recorded as secondary diagnosis. Results: The percentage change of the number of visits with coding practice 1 between 2016Q1 and 2017Q3 was - 74% for patients with hypertension and - 73% with diabetes in tertiary medical centers and - 23% and - 17% in clinics, respectively. By contrast, the percentage changes of coding practice 3 were + 73% for patients with hypertension and + 46% for patients with diabetes in tertiary medical centers and - 19% and - 2% in clinics, respectively. Conclusions: Physician code creep occurred after the initiation of the OVCP. Education regarding appropriate outpatient coding for physicians will be relatively effective when proper coding is related to reimbursement.

Original languageEnglish
Article number127
JournalBMC Health Services Research
Volume20
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Feb 19

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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health Policy

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