"We recognize that learning this new system is extremely involved, so it is going to encroach on overtime and vacation time," says Mannon. "We have a limit on the length of vacations workers can take. Our PTO caps typically, but right now we don't cap after a certain accrual level for our coders." According to the AAPC survey, approximately 75% of medical coders work more than 40 hours a week.
Inova also provides a retention bonus for three years. Employees sign a retention agreement and every year they stay, they get a bonus.
"It helps us maintain our very little turnover. At our system it's less than 5% for coders, and that is way lower than our organizational turnover, which is 12%. Coders also get to work remotely, so we allow a lot of flexibility with coding staff, which helps." But hospitals are beginning to look over their shoulders.
3. Stay competitive in the market
According to the AAPC survey, medical coder jobs are increasing nationally in number and being filled regularly. Salaries also increased at unprecedented rates in 2012, according to the AAPC survey.
"Good coders are always hard to come by, even in the existing environment. So it doesn't surprise me that hospitals would take innovative approaches for vacation time or salary to handle the implementation phases and learning curve associated with that," says Argus. "Retention is a reality and I think they have to be adjusting."