By Joe Capko, Capko & Company

Every year, changes to the CPT codes take medical practices by surprise — even though everyone knows the updates are coming.  Whether it’s because doctors and administrators assume that coding changes won’t likely apply to their specialty, because it’s hard to find time to go through the materials, or just due to old-fashioned procrastination, most of the practices we work with wind up ignoring the new codes until they start finding out the hard way that the codes they’ve been using are no longer valid — i.e., once claims start to be rejected.

Naturally, this is a costly problem for all practices, as these rejected codes can mean payment delays of six months or more.

Here’s the good news.  Since most (if not all) of the other practices you work with as referring partners are facing the same pain-in-the-neck, why not turn this hassle into a marketing opportunity?  You can do it by hosting a Code Update Seminar — call it a “code party” if you want to be less formal about it — and invite the practice managers and administrators from the other practices you work with to learn about the changes.  You arrange for a coding consultant to present an overview of the changes, along with a meal or some snacks — depending on the size of the group you’re inviting, you may need to rent out a large conference or event space at a nearby hotel or business center.  Depending on your preferences (and those of your colleagues), you could schedule an early morning breakfast event, a lunch event, or an evening or weekend seminar.

If this seems like too much effort or expense, you can try the “lite” version: a smaller, more intimate, group hosted in the office reception area during non-clinic hours.

Helping to solve a problem that your colleagues all share while also giving your administrative staff the chance to network with their counterparts at your key referring partners is a wonderful way to promote your own practice without “selling.”  Be sure to have some tchotckes (pens, post-it notes, etc) imprinted with your practice name for attendees to take home from the seminar.

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