The Top Questions to Ask Before You Buy Coding Data Files

medical business meeting

A lot of the talk around TCI SuperCoder lately has been focused on our recently improved 2018 Data Files and the major financial consequences that can result from an organization’s choice of data files.
Why is this choice so important? When it comes to medical codes, data sets have to have the right information in the right format or your productivity, accuracy, and reimbursement will suffer. To help you make the best choice for your bottom line and your employee satisfaction levels, consider these questions when you make your next medical coding data files decision.

Are the Data Files Accurate and Up to Date?

If the information in a medical codes file isn’t complete or if it contains errors, your coding will be incorrect. Using the wrong codes results in denials, loss of reimbursement, and problems if you face an audit. Be sure you work with an organization you can trust to supply accurate coding information.
And keep in mind that a lot of coding data gets updated on a quarterly basis. For instance, there are Medicare NCCI and HCPCS updates each quarter. Missing a new coding edit or HCPCS code change that affects one of your bread and butter services could cost you big in missed reimbursement or denials. To ensure your data stays up to date, ask the vendor if you can get quarterly updates included in your contract.

Are You Getting Your Money’s Worth?

When you shop for data files, knowing what you’ll pay is important. Knowing what you’ll get for what you pay is also important. A price comparison needs to factor in not just the initial price, but also how the information you get will improve your reimbursement and efficiency.
Two areas to consider include whether you can customize and whether there are specialty-specific options.
For instance, for medical codes, data files can provide more than codes and descriptors, and those extras aren’t mere fluff. Having the code status and RVUs with a procedure code, for example, can give your team notice of what payment to expect from a claim. You also can use that data to strategize based on your top-reported codes. Similarly, choosing specialty-specific data file options can help keep the files focused on the information that’s relevant to what your team does.
Bottom line: Watch for ways to cut out the clutter and to personalize the files so your organization runs at top efficiency.

Will You Be Able to Start Using the Data Fast?

Our final question is all about turn-around time. How soon will the information be available to you, and how quickly can you get it into your system? Work with a company that has the resources to provide the files in a reasonable timeframe. And ask your vendor about the file format and how integration with your existing systems will work. Don’t assume you’ll be able to perform a simple click to download medical codes. Data files may take additional steps to work seamlessly with your EHR/EMR or other existing systems, so check with your vendor to see if guidance is available to make the process go smoothly.

What About You?
What do you look for when you choose data files?


Deborah concentrates on coding and compliance for radiology and cardiology, including the tricky world of interventional procedures, as well as oncology and hematology. Since joining The Coding Institute in 2004, she’s also covered the ins and outs of coding for orthopedics, audiology, skilled nursing facilities (SNFs), and more.

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