Podcast Episode 33 – “Double Your Income by Learning 5 Billing and Coding Tricks” with Dr. Charlotte Akor
Episode 33 – My guest this week is Dr. Charlotte Akor. She is a pediatric ophthalmologist but she has carved out a cool niche for herself: teaching billing and coding to doctors. A few years ago, after I had been in military medicine for about 7 or 8 years, I realized I had utterly no idea how to bill and code properly. Frankly, since my salary never really depended on it, I never bothered to learn it. I certainly didn’t have any training during residency or fellowship on how to do it properly, and I bet you didn’t either. Hardly any training programs teach that.
A few years before I went into private practice, I decided to get good at billing and coding. I was flabbergasted at how poorly I had been doing coding and billing previously. I was undercoding a lot of encounters, by as much as 30-40% of their value in some cases. It was ludicrous! Can you imagine if I had realized that only years after starting my own practice and realized how much money I had lost by just not knowing how to code?
If you’re starting to sweat a little right now wondering what you’re not coding for and how much money you’re losing, then this episode is definitely for you. Dr. Charlotte is going to give us some great tips about how to avoid common mistakes people make when it comes to billing, coding, and collections. She’s awesome and really knows her stuff. Trust me, you’re going to hear at least one thing in today’s episode that you didn’t know you didn’t know.
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“You can’t afford to not be good at billing and coding. Automate the process, train your staff to help you, or take a course, but you’ve got to learn to do this well or you’re losing money!”
– Dr. Charlotte Akor
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Meet Dr. Charlotte Akor
Dr. Charlotte Akor (a.k.a. Dr. Charlotte) is a Board-Certified Ophthalmologist, Certified Medical Chart Auditor (CMCA-E/M), and an internationally recognized speaker and consultant. In addition, she is a sought after expert on billing and coding and understanding the financial language of medical practice.
Dr. Charlotte meets with early career physicians and clinicians one on one and in the group setting to teach them the alphabet soup of billing and coding and how those rules apply in the practice of medicine. She also helps medical practices with chart audits so that they can stay in compliance with the extensive rules and regulations required in clinical documentation. She uses her extensive knowledge base to help clinicians and practices understand billing, coding and collections so they can continue to serve their patients.
As the Founder and Chief Medical Officer of Dr. Charlotte- Billing, Coding, and Auditing Services she discusses real world strategies for physicians to understand the rules of billing and coding so clinicians can get reimbursed for the care they provide. Dr. Charlotte also shares her medical billing and coding expertise in her book, Medical Coding Decoded: A Simple Guide to Understanding and Applying Codes in Your Practice. Her second book: Medical Compensation Decoded is a more comprehensive manual on how young ophthalmologists can get paid for their work.
Dr. Charlotte is currently an employed physician in Abilene, Texas. Dr. Charlotte mission in life is simple: be passionate, grow and learn and have fun. Dr. Charlotte helps physicians understand the RVU system, how to document appropriately for the level of service, how to use from telemedicine codes, and how to maximize reimbursement from procedures and tests, and how to survive a medical audit.
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- 00:00 – Introduction to episode 32 of The Scope of Practice Podcast.
- 01:25 – Subscribe to the podcast, and please leave a review!
- 02:31 – Take the 2020 Podcast survey for a chance to win a $50 Amazon gift card
- 03:35 – Introduction to Dr. Charlotte Akor.
- 05:11 – It is IMPERATIVE that physicians learn good coding and billing strategies.
- 06:01 – Dr. Charlotte Akor shares her story and how she became a national expert on billing and coding.
- 11:37 – Getting back to the basics. What’s the difference between “billing,” “coding,” and “collections.”
- 16:31 – Think of the billing and coding in terms of an “economy of scale.” If you make a mistake, it costs you
- 17:16 – Dr. Charlotte Akor gives us some helpful hints to help guide you to choose the right codes.
- 22:47 – Documentation is key to being able to bill for higher codes. Make sure you include enough physical exam items, history items, and data review items to justify your coding.
- 23:46 – Just because you have a low risk encounter doesn’t mean you can’t bill for a higher code.
- 24:45 – You DON’T have to memorize that many codes to be able to code well. Your 20 most frequently used codes will cover 80% or more of all of your coding encounters.
- 27:17 – Big coding mistake #1 – failing to document your history, physical exam, and plan of faction properly.
- 27:51 – Big coding mistake #2 – not knowing what needs to be billed separately like an EKG or tobacco cessation counseling.
- 29:42 – Big coding mistake #3 – trying to figure out coding all by yourself with no training.
- 31:26 – Big coding mistake #4 – not paying attention to coding or just “forgetting” to do it right.
- 31:51 – Big coding mistake #5 – failing to periodically audit your coding practice and improve.
- 32:11 – Can we learn to do good billing and coding ourselves or should we hire a professional to do it for us?
- 34:20 – Dr. Charlotte Akor recommends using your staff to help with coding so you can spend your time focusing on your patients. Also, leverage your electronic medical record to help automate the process for you.
- 36:24 – How do we make sure our staff is trained to be able to do coding and billing effectively. A lot of this will be on-the-job training.
- 38:45 – Dr. Charlotte Akor shares her tips for avoiding mistakes with billing. In particular, be sure that you get any pre-authorization, ensuring you are “in-network.”
- 41:41 – What mistakes do we make when it comes to collections? The biggest mistake is failing to negotiate the proper amount for your insurance contracts. Fight for what you’re worth!
- 43:23 – Dr. Charlotte Akor shares that these things still apply to cash-pay patients. It’s not just relevant to insurance payments!
- 44:31 – If you’re already in clinical practice, you can take a course or find a coach if you want to learn better billing and coding practices!
- 46:33 – For the early career physician, you can get a lot of on-the-job training by just talking to the billers and coders at your hospital.
- 48:50 – Recapping the 5 big coding mistakes from Dr. Charlotte Akor.
- 49:51 – How can you connect to Dr. Charlotte Akor?
- 51:47 – Summary of the episode.
- 52:52 – signing off
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