Billing and coding webinar series helps build for future needs

November 1, 2012

There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes in the optometric practice that eventually leads to the optometrist receiving payment for services performed. If an uninsured patient arrives with cash in hand, the payment for services is an easy process, but if the patient is insured, the process is more complicated.

Filling out forms, knowing insurance company guidelines, providing follow-up correspondence, and resubmission of claims are all part of the responsibilities of a billing coder. It is important to have the right person performing tasks that have such a huge impact on the practice’s bottom line.

Many practices may have a billing coder who has been performing these duties for years, some since the practice opened.

Are you preparing now for future needs? Is there someone ready to step up and take on those responsibilities if a vacancy opens?

For the last few months, more than 80 paraoptometrics have learned the basics of billing and coding from the AOA Paraoptometric Section (PS) webinar series “Billing and Coding: Foundations for Beginners.”

This nine-part series covers various topics such as medical terminology, current procedural terminology, diagnostic codes, evaluation and management services, health care procedures classification system, general ophthalmologic services, modifiers/special ophthalmologic procedures, claim filing, and compliance/ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

In the webinars, Harvey Richman, O.D., and Rebecca Wartman, O.D., share their expertise and knowledge of billing and coding with participants.

Each unit is designed to teach beginners foundational concepts and terms relating to billing and coding.

The training is supported through an unrestricted grant from Vision West. Based in Oceanside, Calif., Vision West is a nationwide membership-based practice management and buying group resource.

AOA PS and Vision West members have free access to the monthly “live” presentations, and the PS Webinar Rewind webpage offers “on demand” viewing, designed to let staff study from anywhere, at any time, and at their own pace.

As the growing health care field becomes more complex and changes, optometric practices need to stay abreast of the latest information in medical billing and coding. It is difficult to find trained personnel who understand the confusing maze of insurance billing. It is practical to have staff begin learning the fundamentals of billing and coding now so when the need for billers/coders increases, staff will be prepared.

The webinar series provides consistency in its messaging and trains new staff on the basics of billing and coding without requiring time on the part of more experienced staff. Once basic knowledge is acquired, experienced staff can provide “hands on” application and expanded training.

When staff is trained effectively, they can bill insurance companies efficiently. They can increase the practice’s collection of reimbursements and keep it from possibly losing thousands of dollars each month in lost revenue and mounting accounts receivables.

Other similar types of training are available, but the out-of-pocket expenses are far greater. For only $63 a year (the cost of the PS membership fee), staff can begin learning the ins and outs of insurance processing.

PS membership also provides discounts on education materials such as the Introduction to Insurance Flash cards and free access to the Paraoptometric Skill Builder® Level One online training program.

The Commission on Paraoptometric Certification also offers a Paraoptometric Coding Certification for those who have had a minimum of two years’ experience in coding.

Nearly 70 paraoptometrics have passed the examination to become Certified Paraoptometric Coders (CPOC) since 2011. A certified coder may be the first line of defense against non-compliance and improper coding.

For more information, contact cpc@aoa.org.

The Billing and Coding: Foundation for Beginners Webinar series is a great learning tool to start the process of eventually becoming a certified coder.

For additional information, contact the Paraoptometric Section at PS@aoa.org.

By the numbers

According to the AOA Research and Information Center:

  • Coding and billing paraoptometric positions were reported by 59 percent of optometry practices and were more typically full-time positions in 2009.
  • Offices reported coding and billing positions had an average of .08 paraoptometrics per optometrist.

The 2010 Census of Optometric Practice was conducted by the AOA Research and Information Center in the fourth quarter of 2010 to gather key information about the practice of optometry. The 2010 Census of Optometric Practice was sent to all professionally active AOA member optometrists who had a valid address on file with the AOA.

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