It is better for physicians to do the coding themselves because they are the ones who know exactly what the procedure was. Coders don’t, Ms. Pollock noted.
Explore This IssueJune 2008
It’s much more difficult to teach a coder how to be doctor, and understand what you did in the operating room….Besides, coding is how you get paid. You want to be in control of that-nobody else, she said. Furthermore, it’s the doctor’s name at the bottom of the insurance form asserting accuracy of the claim, so there is a legal responsibility to be on top of this.
Rights and Responsibilities
It is also important to understand the rights and responsibilities of practice members. One responsibility of physicians is to be on time with patients, as well as in the operating room. Another responsibility is to submit charges in a timely manner so services can be billed.
Some practices develop a document outlining rights and responsibilities. This serves as the governing behavior rules for you, your partners, the employees, and how we treat patients. The rights and responsibilities will address clinical issues, administration issues, behavior issues, Ms. Pollock said.
Measure Your Success
Another key point is to measure your success. Here, it is important for doctors to be on top of the business end of their practice. She pointed out that many doctors leave the business of their practice to someone else-the office manager, or the practice administrator-adding that this is just a bad idea.
Ms. Pollock has had experience working with physicians who have had the unfortunate experience of embezzlement occurring in their practice. A couple of months ago, I had a neurosurgeon call me in a tizzy because he found out that his office manager was forging checks from the practice and paying herself money, paying her credit card bills, from the practice checkbook, she said.
There was another case in which a practice’s office manager forged checks from both the practice and a doctor’s personal checking account. The gig was up-not after the manager had some cosmetic surgery done and showed up with a new Lexus SUV-but after she started showing up to the office wearing pricey jewelry. She had embezzled $165,000, and eventually ended up in jail.
These sorts of things happen because doctors got into the habit of letting someone such as an office manager take care of all the finances, and didn’t pay attention to the details. You do not want anybody but you or a partner in your practice to have check-signing privileges, she said.