Medical Billing & Coding Training in Residency – JDD Podcast Highlights

Each month, the JDD Podcast features an in-depth interview with one of the investigators from the current issue. July’s podcast, hosted by Dr. Adam Friedman, features Dr. Beth McLellan, an assistant professor of Dermatology from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and an expert in supportive oncodermatology – the treatment and prevention of cutaneous side effects associated with oncologic therapeutics. She talked about her group’s recent publication “A National Survey of Medical Coding and Billing Training in United States Dermatology Residency Programs,” and gave some advice about how we as dermatologists can best support patients going through treatment for cancer.

Key Takeaways

On “A National Survey of Medical Coding and Billing Training in United States Dermatology Residency Programs”:

  • McLellan and her colleagues set out to characterize what kind of guidance is provided to residents when it comes to learning about billing at coding. They conducted a national survey of dermatology residents which had a high response rate.
  • They found that most residents are getting lectures about coding from faculty, and even from medical coders in some instances.
  • Their survey also presented clinical scenarios and asked respondents to provide the correct coding and billing information. Most of the respondents did very well in this task.
  • In spite of the above, many residents surveyed felt that they were not confident in their coding and billing knowledge. Many also expressed interest in an online curriculum to learn more about coding and billing.
  • McLellan recommends keeping up with coding and billing knowledge by attending lectures at national conferences and meetings and through various online resources from professional organizations.
  • She cites modifiers as one of the most difficult aspects to get a handle on, especially since many providers use them differently from one another. She notes that Medicare has several online resources that may be helpful in learning their correct use.

On Supportive Oncodermatology:

  • With new targeted therapies emerging for various cancers, we are seeing new kinds of adverse events.  For example: new immunotherapies have immune-related dermatologic side effects, which could even include development of psoriasis or vitiligo.
  • Some adverse effects to cancer treatment are universal and easier to treat, like xerosis. Others are more specific and preventable, such as nail symptoms caused by taxanes, which can avoided by hand and foot cooling during infusions.
  • Collaboration with oncologists is crucial to providing supportive care to cancer patients. McLellan recommends making it known to the oncology team that you can fit patients in on short notice and even reaching out to the oncology nursing staff, who may notice side effects that patients ignore or minimize.

Make sure to tune in and listen to the Podcast here.

Words from the investigator

In addition to highlighting a monthly JDD Podcast, George Washington School of Medicine and Health Sciences resident are given the chance to conduct a brief interview with study authors. This month, resident Dr. Elizabeth Robinson got up and close with Dr. Beth McLellan.

Dr. Robinson: Are there any specific resources for residents learning billing, either online, at conferences, or elsewhere?

Many conferences have great speakers who are experts in billing. The AAD Derm Coding Consult is usually very helpful. I also learn a lot from online dermatology discussion groups.

Dr. Robinson: What is one piece of advice for current residents and young dermatologists?

Coding and billing needs to be learned just like medical knowledge. It is one of the few things you will learn that will apply to every single patient you see. However, it isn’t intuitive and requires memorization, studying, and practice.

Dr. Robinson: What is one book everyone should read?

When Breath Becomes Air. Keep it all in perspective.

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