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Improving Accuracy of Clinical Documentation Positively Impacts Risk Adjustment Factor and HCC Coding

The Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) risk adjustment model is used by CMS to estimate predicted costs for Medicare beneficiaries, and the results directly impact the reimbursement healthcare organizations receive for patients enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. CMS requires that all qualifying conditions be identified each year by provider organizations. Documentation that is linked to a non-specific diagnosis, as well as incomplete documentation, negatively affects reimbursement.

Allina Health, a not-for-profit integrated healthcare delivery system serving Minnesota and western Wisconsin, needed to improve its HCC coding and clinical documentation in order to ensure the correct risk adjustment factor (RAF) was applied to its patients, since failing to do so would jeopardize its reimbursement and result in lower than expected compensation. After identifying opportunities for improvement by comparing its HCC risk adjustment coding data to other organizations and vendor metrics, Allina Health improved clinical documentation precision, medical diagnoses accuracy, and ensured eligible patients are seen each calendar year.

Results:

  • 10 percent increase in RAF for the target population in one year.
  • 72 percent relative improvement in four key problem list diagnoses.
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Opportunity Analysis Permits Successful Execution of At-Risk Contracts

Growth in the government payer mix and an increased cost burden to the commercial population, decreases in the private payer population, and programs like the Medicare Shared Services Program, have caused joint ventures, partnerships, and co-branding efforts, better known as at-risk contracts, between payers and providers to increase.

Allina Health has three Integrated Health Partnership (IHP) contracts, an accountable care model that incentivizes healthcare providers to take on more financial accountability for the cost of care for Medicaid patients, which cover approximately 90,000 members. To achieve success in its IHP contracts, and avoid losses, Allina Health needed to reduce healthcare costs while improving patient outcomes and experience.

Allina Health has integrated several data sources, including claims and developed the infrastructure required to perform opportunity analysis. Using data and analytics for opportunity analysis has given Allina Health insight into its IHP patient population, supporting the development of interventions to decrease the total cost of care and improve outcomes.

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