What are the Challenges of Interventional Radiology Coding? How is It Different From Other Medical Coding?

Coding for interventional radiology, which can also include coding for neuro-interventional procedures and endovascular surgery, is among the most difficult of all clinical subspecialties to code. Because of developments in technology, the number of procedures performed is ever-increasing; the American College of Radiology anticipates an annual growth rate of 8% in interventional radiology and other high-tech services.

Interventional Radiology Coders

One of the repercussions of this expansion will be an increase in the existing lack of interventional radiology coders with the necessary level of expertise. It also indicates that the rules, regulations, and edits for interventional radiology coding will continue to evolve and that interventional radiology coders will face an ever-increasing level of difficulty in their day-to-day efforts to keep up with the simultaneous development of both science and coding.

How Much Money Does an IR Coder Make?

As of October 2022, the typical yearly salary for an IR Coder working in the United States is $120,102.

In the event that you want a straightforward calculator for salaries, it comes out to around $57.74 per hour. This amounts to $2,309 each week or $10,000 per month.

We have seen annual salaries as high as $257,500 and as low as $26,500, the majority of salaries for Interventional Radiology Coding are currently ranging between $70,500  and $153,000, with top earners making $222,500 annually across the United States.

Why Interventional Radiology Coding Shouldn’t be Performed by Diagnostic Radiology Coders?

Since there is a shortage of skilled interventional radiology coders at many hospitals, the coding for interventional radiology is frequently performed by diagnostic radiology coders, interventionalists, or radiology technicians. The coders for diagnostic radiology aren’t familiar with the procedures involved in interventional radiology. Radiologists are the medical professionals who identify diseases and ailments, whereas interventionalists are the ones who treat them.

Interventionalists are medical professionals who specialize in performing a wide variety of complex procedures all over the body. Some of the procedures they perform include placement of vascular filters, dilation and stenting distant arteries, kyphoplasty, balloon occlusions, chemo-embolization, thrombolysis, ablations,  and a number of other neurosurgical, gastrointestinal, and gynecologic procedures.

Why Interventional Radiology Coding is difficult

Coders that specialize in diagnostic radiology almost never have experience with interventional procedures, let alone the coding rules and modifications that are unique to interventional radiology.

In contrast to the typically brief nature of diagnostic radiology reports, which present coders with the primary problem of locating a diagnostic statement that can be coded, interventional radiology reports are frequently lengthy and intimidating.

When interventionalists spend time on coding, they cease to spend time on revenue-generating patient care which only they can provide. Having an interventional radiologist code operations is the most wasteful use of time possible. This individual will likely be one of the highest-paid coders in the world.

Even though technicians may have a solid grasp of the intricacies of the operations, they frequently have a limited understanding of the intricate rules, regulations, and modifications that govern the coding, billing, and reimbursement processes associated with interventional radiology. They frequently check off items on a pre-printed (and frequently out of date) charge sheet based on what the interventionalist called the procedure rather than what services are actually documented in the procedure report. This is because the interventionalist often names the procedure differently than the patient does. This could accidentally create a huge compliance risk in the case of a RAC or OIG audit, or it could result in enormous amounts of lost income if the report discloses additional separately billable procedures that were missed.

Putting a checkmark on a charge sheet is very different from the arcane precision that is required for accurate IR coding, and there can be significant compliance risks for all of the radiologists as well as the hospital if the codes aren’t supported by the specifics included in the report.

Interventional Radiology Coding: The Needs & Challenges

  • There is a critical shortage of skilled interventional radiology coders, and finding one can be challenging. They are costly to attract and hire, and their continual “care and feeding” of them can be a significant financial burden for businesses.
  • Requires interventional radiology coding experience, training, and management resources. Coding for interventional radiology, and specifically coding for neuro-angiographic procedures, is among the most difficult and complex coding ever developed. Different families and levels of vessels, transcatheter and endovascular treatments, and intraoperative radiography all contribute to the diverse mix of challenges.
  • As a result of the severe lack of interventional radiology coders, there is a high rate of coding staff turnover. Along with its other disruptive repercussions, turnover can cause a “whiplash” in cash flow, which can result in backlogs and lost revenue.
  • In order to financially manage the employment of a specialist in interventional radiology coding, an interventional radiology practice needs to be somewhat large. The vast majority of practices, including those located in tertiary medical centers, do not have the necessary number of patients to warrant employing an interventional radiology coder.
  • When it comes to the coding that is used for interventional radiology, there is no such thing as a “mulligan.” If your Medicare and insurance claims are not accurate the first time, your risk of noncompliance will increase, and you will have a greater chance of losing revenue that cannot be recovered.

What Does Sybrid MD Offer?

Sybrid MD standouts in countering the challenges of IR Coding. Coding for interventional radiology, neuro-interventional radiology, endovascular surgery, and peripheral vascular surgery are all handled exclusively by a distinct division of our organization, which is dedicated solely to these areas of specialization. Each of these coders has years of expertise in interventional radiology and is dual certified, proficiency tested, and routinely Q/A’d in IR.

In addition, they each hold a black belt in IR. Since they solely code for interventionalists, their abilities are always up-to-date and extremely honed.

The Bottom Line

Coding for interventional radiology is challenging. Very challenging. Why? The more high-tech treatments will be carried out as technological development proceeds, the policies and procedures that govern interventional radiology would undergo a period of change. Any coder would find this to be a difficult environment to work in.

When compared to rates of error in other medical specialties, those associated with interventional radiology coding and billing are much higher. Stacie Buck, an expert, and auditor in the field of interventional radiology coding says that as much as sixty percent of all interventional radiology treatments are recorded erroneously.

To have a satisfactory IR coding experience, contact Sybrid MD.