Exploring the Impact of AI on Medical Coders

By Hudson Schertz

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making waves throughout the healthcare industry, and medical coding is no exception. Driven by a shortage of medical coders, increasing costs, and low coding quality, revenue cycle leaders are turning to AI-powered medical coding solutions such as autonomous coding to bring greater accuracy and efficiency to their operations.

While autonomous medical coding has been well-received by healthcare organizations, many medical coders fear that this AI-based solution will make their roles obsolete. This has led to “fear of job loss” being noted as one of the key barriers to AI adoption in revenue cycle management.

In reality, the majority of healthcare organizations that implement autonomous medical coding do not reduce their medical coder headcount. Instead, these organizations shift their coders into coding-adjacent roles (auditing, denials management, etc.), move coders to specialties where coding is more complex, and fill gaps in departments that were missing qualified medical coders.

To further explore the true impact of autonomous medical coding on medical coders and their roles, we spoke with a number of our customers who are currently live with Nym’s medical coding engine. Here’s what they had to say…

We implemented Nym’s autonomous medical coding engine for emergency department (ED) visits, and since going live with the technology, our medical coders have shifted from purely production coding to a mix of production coding and auditing. Autonomous coding has also enabled an increased capacity for coders to be cross-trained from simple ED coding to more complex coding such as Observation, Labor and Delivery, and Trauma cases as well. In addition to these changes, autonomous coding with Nym has also enabled us to improve our coder’s work-life balance, specifically allowing more coders to take paid vacation on the dates they prefer." - Vice President, Revenue Cycle at a Top 250 Health System

“There was a sense of panic among our medical coders that their jobs were in danger when we first began exploring autonomous medical coding. That said, we were very transparent with our team about how their roles could potentially change with the implementation of autonomous coding, and building that trust early on has been really important. Since going live with Nym’s medical coding engine, our medical coders have shifted away from purely production coding and now work within auditing, clinical documentation improvement, denials, and other quality-focused functions as well.” - Director of Coding Operations at a Top 10 Emergency Medicine Physician Group

“Implementing autonomous medical coding with Nym has resulted in some really positive improvements in the well-being of our medical coding staff. Most notably, autonomous coding has significantly decreased the overtime demands on our coding staff, as we previously had to rely on overtime quite frequently due to struggles finding qualified coders for our vacant positions. This has resulted in reduced stress, improved work-life balance, and potentially increased job satisfaction.” - Director of Coding Operations at a Top 250 Health System

“For our organization, the shortage of qualified medical coders meant that certain departments had to rely on clinical staff such as doctors, nurses, and technicians, to code patient encounters. Not only did this take valuable clinician time away from patients, but it also put the accuracy of our medical coding at risk. Now, with Nym autonomously coding a significant volume of our emergency department (ED) visits, we’ve moved coders from the ED to those “problem” departments, freeing up the clinical staff to focus more on patient care while also ensuring high-quality coding. We haven’t reduced our medical coder headcount at all since implementing autonomous coding.” - Director of Coding and Revenue Integrity at a Top 250 Health System

These examples paint a picture of the impact that implementing autonomous medical coding can have on medical coders and their day-to-day roles. Rather than replacing jobs, we’re seeing that autonomous medical coding enables medical coders to shift into higher-complexity roles, frees up clinical staff to focus more time on patient care, and in general, improves coder’s work-life balance by reducing administrative burden driven by staffing challenges. 

Interested in learning more about autonomous medical coding with Nym? Check out these helpful resources!

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