Friday, June 18, 2010

How the Coder Coach Spends Her Time

You’ve read the blog postings before – I am very passionate about helping folks break into the industry. And as I step on my soap box to tell novice coders to be persistent and network, someone inevitably asks me if I hire new coders. The honest answer is no, but it’s not because I wouldn’t if I had the opportunity. The truth is, as a consultant, I am working with clients who expect - and pay a premium for - experienced coding knowledge. And because I am not in a position to hire new coders, I write this blog, present monthly Coder Coach events, and tweet relevant articles I come across. When I give that answer, the next inevitable question is, “What do you do as a consultant?” So I thought I would take a moment to tell you what I’ve been up to lately – in my day job.

Because I work for a small company, we get a wide array of requests, so to many, my job may seem like a crazy schizophrenic mess. I can’t possibly put down everything I do without writing a small book! So I decided I would take the last couple of weeks and give you the rundown.

I’ve been working with a client for about a year to improve their coding and charging accuracy in the cardiac cath lab. While that may seem simple and straightforward, the client is a large teaching hospital and training the coders isn’t enough – we also need to talk to the nurses, techs, and doctors about documentation. Last week I traveled to the client and presented seven identical training sessions to the nurses and radiology techs in the cath lab on how to improve their documentation. Each presentation was two hours. And that two hour presentation took about a week to prepare for. In between training sessions, there were meetings with cath lab and HIM management and time spent one-on-one with one of the coders who had questions on some cases. I had an extra treat last week when we were invited into the cath lab to see some procedures being performed.

During the evenings last week I put the final touches on two presentations I needed to submit for this week’s AAPC chapter meeting and also met with my boss about a potential new contract that would significantly impact my summer work deadlines. After traveling home, I attended my first board meeting as a director for the Colorado Health Information Management Association where we planned our strategic initiatives for the coming year and I took a few moments to stress the importance of hiring new pros and expressing a need to get more employers on board (I just want you to know that I’m also preaching to my peers!).

This week my time was split between clients as I prepare for training a client next week on injections and infusion coding and follow-up with my cath lab client on the issues from last week and plan the next round of training. I spent several hours analyzing client data and doing a couple of chart audits. Last night I spoke at the AAPC chapter meeting and networked with some folks a bit. Today I will be pulling together the handouts for the next Coder Coach event and again preparing for next week’s training.

Over the coming weeks and months, I have several training sessions to prepare for with clients, client reports that need to be written, and client meetings that need to take place. I am also working on our company’s plan for ICD-10 training, writing white papers on ICD-10 implementation and training and presentations for two AAPC chapter meetings next month. We don't want to think about it, but fall is right around the corner and it's the busy season for consultants as we study the code changes and read the Federal Register for changes to code-based reimbursement for next year. Amid all of these tasks are a myriad of other little “to dos” and more than one project I’m not yet aware of. In my spare time (?!), I blog, network, and do other miscellaneous things for the Coder Coach group and soon will also be blogging for AHIMA's new HI Careers website.

So if you ever ask me what I do and I pause and say, “Um,” it’s because I’m trying to remember exactly what it was I did that day!

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