June 06, 2017 | | Comments 0
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Measuring the effect of HCCs, part 2

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in the Revenue Cycle Advisor. For more information about Hierarchical Condition Categories (HCCs), read this article from the CDI Journal by Gloryanne Bryant, RHIA, RHIT, CCS, CCDS. To read the third part of this article, come back to the blog next week. The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of ACDIS or its advisory board.

Separate rumors from facts in relation to risk-adjustment

Organizations may mistakenly believe that hierarchical condition categories (HCCs) are currently being applied to all reimbursement models and CDI program staff may not understand the nuances of how risk adjustments get calculated for certain claims-based outcomes such as mortality or readmissions, says James P. Fee, MD, CCS, CCDS, vice president of Enjoin, Collierville, Tennessee.

Organizations need to begin understanding HCCs and what their risk-adjustment factor (RAF) is, but these codes do not currently affect all reimbursement models across the board. For example, HCCs primarily affect the cost category of MIPS. The relative category weighting for cost is 0% for 2017 but will be 30% for 2019 and will not begin to affect payment until 2020. Evaluate what metrics and reimbursement are affected by HCCs and target resources.

“All of these risk-adjustment methodologies and HCCs in particular are being used in compensation in ACOs and in the value-based purchasing models that we’re looking at for future reimbursement,” says Monica Pappas, RHIA, president of MPA Consulting, Inc., in Long Beach, California. “So we really have to learn more about the system and be more informed about the impact of some of these codes that we typically don’t pay attention to.”

Organizations already specify if codes are complications or comorbidities or major complications or comorbidities and make calculations based on Medicare Severity-Diagnosis Related Groups. The same general principles can be applied to HCCs, Pappas says. Although the sheer number of codes can seem overwhelming, hospitals can work with vendors to create systems to track and flag the codes, and many HCCs fall in the same category, she says.

Coders and CDI professionals can use that as a shortcut to help them remember common targets. As demand rises, vendors will likely develop more sophisticated tools to assist in identifying these codes, flagging documentation for physicians and CDI specialists, and analyzing data.

“I don’t think any human being is capable of knowing all this,” she says. “The amount of information is massive and if we don’t look to some technology solutions, we’ll never win.”


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Filed Under: ACDISCDI ProfessionClinical Documentation ImprovementCodingGrowing your programOutpatientPayment mattersTip Tuesday


Linnea Archibald About the Author: Linnea Archibald is the CDI editor for the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS). In this role, she helps out with the website, blog, social media, newsletter, and the CDI Journal. If you have any questions, feel free to email her.

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