How to Train Coordinators in Clinical Research Billing Rules

Dawn Burke
June 30th, 2014

The topic of training clinical research coordinators was addressed in a past clinical research billing webinar, presented by Ryan Meade and Julie Colasacco of Aegis Compliance & Ethics Center.   In the Q&A format webinar, the following question was posed:

What are some best practices to train coordinators in clinical research billing rules?

In short, the answer was to not actually “train” them in the billing rules at all – at least not in the traditional sense.

Let’s consider the traditional responsibilities of a clinical research coordinator.  They pre-screen subjects, plan and conduct subject visits, maintain documentation, manage study supplies…the list goes on.  Nowhere in there, however, is billing. It is simply not a task that most want coordinators to get involved with, and it’s certainly not why they chose the career path that they did.  While we all have tasks at our jobs that we don’t like to do, putting the responsibility of learning clinical research billing rules on a coordinator can have undue consequences.

Rather, a more successful model seems to be to include coordinators in the team responsible for clinical research billing, but not put the main responsibility on them.  Clearly define the roles of members on the team, involve everyone in the coverage analysis, and build from there – keeping coordinators in more of a consultative role and leaving the true billing tasks to billing specialists.  By doing so, coordinators will naturally start to learn some rules without the pressure of feeling they need to take full responsibility for them.

If, however, an organization decides to assign coordinators with billing responsibilities, it is recommended that training be done with a creative approach.  Map out a plan, explain why it’s so important, and bring some excitement to an otherwise rather mundane task.

Ultimately, the way in which coordinators should be trained in clinical research billing rules depends on the role they will actually play in the process and what works best for each organization.  Whatever route is chosen, ensure that it doesn’t become overly burdensome by consuming the majority of a coordinator’s workload.  By only involving them as much as truly needed, organizations can run a successful billing department while keeping coordinators happy and focused on patient-oriented tasks.



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