How Harrisburg Medical Center Saved 50% with a Revolutionary Training Solution for Their Medical Coders


Executive Summary

Harrisburg Medical Center’s Health Information department was in new territory. The medical center had hired physicians in three complex new specialties: spinal surgery, orthopedic surgery, and pain management. These surgeons were dedicated to advanced muscle-sparing techniques that required new technologies and specialized knowledge. Harrisburg had strong, seasoned coders, but they were unfamiliar with the coding requirements for these cases. They needed a way to get their coders up-to-speed without falling behind.

TotalMed Coding Solutions offered a revolutionary, all-in-one approach that helped Harrisburg reach coding autonomy in just five months. With TotalMed, Harrisburg received intensive training, hired top contingent coders to keep up with demand during the transition, and achieved 97+% accuracy rates within the new specialties. With this new in-house education and staff augmentation model, Harrisburg saved nearly 50% of the cost of traditional training solutions and staff augmentation.

THE CHALLENGE: The coders at Harrisburg Medical Center needed to learn brand new specialties while keeping up with their caseload.

The Harrisburg coding team had no previous experience in spinal surgery, orthopedic surgery, or pain management. The new physicians specialized in state-of-the-art, minimally invasive approaches that involved intricate technologies. The coding team needed advanced training. They would also have to pull back from their daily caseload and dedicate hours to learning the unfamiliar procedures and codes.

Harrisburg needed both a quick, customized education plan for their in-house coders and the help of skilled contingent coders to remain current with all of their cases.

THE SOLUTION: By partnering with TotalMed Coding Solutions, Harrisburg Medical Center received intensive training on new specialties, achieved 97+% accuracy rates in new specialties, and saved 50% on costs.

Harrisburg met the demands of their new physicians by partnering with TotalMed Coding Solutions. While other agencies offered only to provide stop-gap coders to fill in while Harrisburg’s home team got the education they needed from an outside source, TotalMed went above and beyond. They designed a unique solution, tailor-made to address Harrisburg’s dilemma:

  1. They provided Harrisburg’s existing team of permanent coders with extensive on-the-job training in the new specialties
  2. They provided the experienced contingent coders that Harrisburg needed to cover their core staff as they went through the education process.

Rita Ross, Director Health Information Management at Harrisburg Medical Center, said that this approach really made TotalMed stand out from competitors. “Every other company I spoke to just wanted to provide me with coders. I would’ve had to go somewhere else to find an outside, formal training for my coders. Only TotalMed offered an all-in-one solution.”

“TotalMed personalized their solutions so that they were providing exactly what we needed.”

An outside training of this magnitude would’ve cost Harrisburg approximately 20% more than TotalMed’s solution. In addition, an external program would’ve taken the team much longer to get up-to-speed, costing them at least 30% more in contingent coders throughout the year. Instead, the education services that TotalMed provided brought the team up to a 97+% accuracy rate in the new specialties in under 5 months and saved them 50% over traditional solutions.

How did they do it? The TotalMed training specialists walked the Harrisburg team through the coding process for nearly every unfamiliar procedure that might be performed at the medical center. “TotalMed really went above and beyond. They made it clear that they would support us, even after this initial transition period. Our trainer said that if a new procedure came up in the future, I could call her and she’d help us learn the intricacies of coding it,” said Ross. TotalMed continues to work with Harrisburg on monthly quality audits and continuing education.

“I know that TotalMed will be there to help us whenever we have a tough transition down the road.”

TotalMed also created in-depth learning materials and surgical tools and templates for reference post-training. Ross said, “TotalMed supplied us with numerous anatomy illustrations to help our coders visualize the physical structures and the innovative devices commonly used on patients. Seeing that really helped the coders get a deeper understanding of what they were coding. The education process with TotalMed was extremely beneficial to the entire team.

While training was underway, TotalMed also brought in coders to take care of the active caseload in the new specialties. “The coders from TotalMed were very professional and easy to talk to. We were really pleased with their accuracy rate, which was at a 97%. They asked intelligent questions and benefited the entire team during this transition,” said Ross.

Ross says that her coders gained confidence from the training process and from working with TotalMed’s contingent coders. “It’s difficult to put a number to it. What we got from working with TotalMed has been invaluable to us.

About Harrisburg Medical Center

Combining the best healthcare talent with the latest medical technologies, Harrisburg Medical Center is a progressive hospital. It features 45 physicians and a 75+ bed capacity. Our doctors represent most major medical specialties, including emergency medicine, family practice, internal medicine, nephrology, oncology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, psychiatry, psychology, pulmonology, radiology, and surgery.

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