To better understand the impact COVID-19 is having on the coding profession, TrustHCS surveyed members of various social media groups dedicated to the profession.  As of March 31, 2020, TrustHCS has received 161 responses from members of these groups.  As additional responses come in, we’ll continue to post the findings; however, the following highlights what’s been reported at this point.

We asked what type of organization they were working within as a coding professional. The breakdown of respondents included:

  • 42.86% from Hospitals or Health System
  • 29.19% with Outsourced Service Companies
  • 18.01% working within Physician Offices
  • 9.94% from other organization types

We also asked respondents to share with us the primary focus of their job. The distribution of responses included:

  • 70 Profee and Emergency Department Coders
  • 48 Outpatient Coders
  • 22 Inpatient Coders
  • 18 Auditors
  • 3 CDI Professionals

Finally, we broke out the key question regarding “How has your job been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?” with the following options for survey respondents:

  • No Impact
  • Hours Cut to Part-time
  • Hours Increased with Mandatory Overtime
  • Hours Increased with Optional Overtime
  • Placed on Temporary Leave without Pay
  • Placed on Temporary Leave with Pay
  • Job Eliminated

The Results of the Survey

With the results in from the survey, we noted the following findings from the respondents.

Outpatient Coders

As expected, based on the patient population shifts due to COVID-19, Outpatient coders felt the greatest impact. Two thirds of the Outpatient coders who participated in the survey had a direct impact on their job. 50% of the 48 outpatient coders responding to the survey indicated that they had been placed on some sort of temporary leave or had their jobs eliminated. Segmenting the outpatient coder data further, 65% of those working for outsourced service companies have been placed on leave or have lost their jobs.

Inpatient Coders

Inpatient coders reported the lowest impact with 50% of the 22 survey respondents reporting no impact to their job. The Inpatient coders also represented the largest segment of those who were offered overtime. Interestingly, 22.73% of the inpatient coders reported that they had worked mandatory and/or optional overtime as a result of COVID-19.

Profee and Emergency Department Coders

Profee and Emergency Department coders represented the largest group to report that their work schedules had been reduced with 34.29% of these coders now working part-time as a result.  Of the 70 respondents within the Profee or Emergency Department coder category, 20% were placed on some form or temporary leave or had their job eliminated.

Regarding the overall impact felt by all survey respondents:

  • 44.72% felt no impact
  • 26.09% were placed on temporary leave or had their job eliminated
  • 22.98% had hours cut to part-time
  • 7.22% were given overtime as an option or required to work overtime

As we work to flatten the curve with social distancing, the industry hopes to see the impacted coding professionals coming back to work soon. Watch for additional information as we compile follow-up reports on these findings by subscribing to our blog.

Want to participate in the survey?

We are continuing the collection of information on the impact felt by the industry. You can submit your status via our survey found by clicking here.

Coder Assistance Resources

For those coding professionals impacted by COVID-19, here are resources available across the industry.

HIRO Fund (an AHIMA Foundation Fund):
http://www.ahimafoundation.org/support/hiro.aspx

AAPC Hardship/Disaster Assistance:
https://www.aapc.com/memberarea/chapters/scholarship-application.aspx

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – Unemployment Insurance Provisions:
https://www.nelp.org/publication/unemployment-insurance-provisions-coronavirus-aid-relief-economic-security-cares-act/