Are Healthcare Organizations Prepared for E/M Coding Changes?

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Healthcare leaders agree—the COVID-19 pandemic is the biggest health crisis they have experienced in their careers. This was the majority opinion of over 100 surveyed hospital leaders when asked to reflect on how the pandemic has impacted their organizations and their ability to prepare for changes ahead, including the January 2021 changes to the Evaluation and Management (E/M) coding guidelines.

Together, HealthStream and nThrive recently surveyed 127 hospital leaders about the upcoming changes to E/M coding guidelines, their organizational readiness for the transition, and relevant organizational challenges. Most (87.8%) surveyed participants (N = 66) agreed that, “the pandemic is having a major impact on our organization,” and more than half (62.1%) stated they “strongly agreed” with that statement.

With the existing pressures of responding to the coronavirus along with the upcoming transitions in January 2021 with E/M coding guideline changes, organizations are struggling to prioritize. Understandably, three-fourths (75.7%) of respondents agreed with the statement, “the pandemic is making it hard for our organization to focus on training for the new E/M coding.” 

The survey results provide a look into the readiness of organizations to face the upcoming changes that will arrive in January 2021. Four takeaway items from the survey address implementation prioritization, organization preparedness, the completion of AMA checklist activities, and the impending impact of new guidelines. Here are the first two points:

Most organizations reported the implementation of the new E/M coding guidelines are considered very important.
Most survey respondents (89.0%) said the implementation of the new E/M coding guidelines are very important to their organization. Combined with those who stated the implementation of the new guidelines are somewhat important to their organization (7.3%), a total of 96.3% recognized these guideline revisions are an important priority for their organization. Few stated the implementation of new guidelines was somewhat unimportant (2.4%) or not at all important (1.2%). 

The majority of participants (81.7%) reported their organizations are either somewhat or very prepared to implement the new E/M guidelines.
The survey asked participants to assess their organizations’ preparedness for the upcoming changes to the E/M coding guidelines. More than half (57.7%) of those surveyed reported they are very involved in the preparations for the upcoming changes. Nearly one-third (32.9%) reported being somewhat involved, and few reported they were only somewhat uninvolved (2.4%) or not at all involved (7.1%). 

Regarding the degree of preparedness for the upcoming implementation, more than half (58.5%) reported their organizations were somewhat prepared to begin implementing the new E/M guidelines in January 2021. Only 23.2% reported their organization was very prepared to begin implementing the new guidelines, 12.2% were somewhat unprepared, and 6.1% were not at all prepared. 

This article is the first of two excerpts from the HealthStream article, “New HealthStream Survey Results: 4 Things to Know About Upcoming E/M Coding Changes.” Download the full article by Susan Gurzynski-Wells, Senior Product Manager, Revenue Cycle, HealthStream, here.