The Life of A Coder Article Analysis Discussion

After reading the article entitled A Day in the Life of a Coder (located in Module 5, Chapter 11), post your response to the one of following questions:

If you currently work (or have previously worked) as a coder, how do (or did) your coding responsibilities differ from Karen Linder’s responsibilities?
If you do not currently work (or have never worked) as a coder, what surprised you about Karen Linder’s description of her job?
What did you learn about a coding position that you did not know prior to reading her article?

“A Day in a Life of a Coder”
By Karen M. Linder RHIT, CCS-P
It’s very hard for me to pick just one day of the week to describe my career path to each of you. To be honest I’m not sure what I want to be when I grow up. But for right now I get to play Sherlock Holmes and work through solving several mysteries in just one day. To tell you about myself, I was fortunate enough to be hired by a local hospital as an outpatient coder right out of college with my two-year degree. This was a great surprise because most potential employers want someone with experience. To be honest, I never pictured myself throughout my studies as a coder. I quickly signed up for and passed my credentials exam offered by AHIMA. I have taken each learning opportunity offered as personal growth. I volunteered myself numerous times to gain knowledge in other aspects of the hospital. After five years I can code every outpatient work type that is offered at my facility. I have learned the names and the faces that make up our hospital and how their piece to the puzzle connects with mine. I was named “Associate of the Year” in 2004. Advance for Health Information Professionals newsmagazine recognized us as the 2005 Health Information Management Team of the Year. Our coding motto is “No Code, No Dough.” Through education we are making our facility and it’s associates aware of the Revenue Cycle and how we all fit to complete the puzzle.
First and foremost my job is to code Emergency Department Records, Clinic Visits, Observation Stays, Family Practice Visits and the occasional Same Day Surgery Records. I also get to participate in Auditing and Education of our associates and physicians. Creating a PowerPoint presentation, handouts and in-services are all ways we try to get the word out. I also get to dabble on the technology side of Health Information, by troubleshooting our transcription devices throughout the facility. With a simple phone call I can assist with Excel, Word, Access and so many other types of software programs used in our facility. I enter and track data through an Excel Spreadsheet where several data pieces are collected on a weekly and monthly basis. I have created an “Outpatient and Inpatient Productivity Spreadsheet” for my supervisor to enter time and charts coded that gives and average time per chart by work type for each coder. This includes a separate worksheet that fills in graphs and totals automatically. Of course I’m always looking for a project from either my department or another one if needed!
Once a month I’m responsible for our E.D. SPARCS submission. I hold the role of gatekeeper to our Forms Committee, which also gets a great deal of my time. I help manage all new or revised Medical Record forms. This could be from my own creation that will be printed in house or through our forms company. I’m the co-chair in our Socialization Action Counsel to create fun in the workplace. I also participate on our Associate Quality Counsel, helping other associates to make a change in improving our work environment or customer service. The Revenue Cycle is a hot topic in all healthcare facilities right now; this is a huge area of interest for me. I attend bi-weekly Chargemaster meetings. By doing so, I help update our Chargemaster or any other projects that might arise.
In a perfect world we strive to only touch things once. But my world isn’t perfect so along with all this coding comes rework on the backend. I live in the bowels of the hospital and it didn’t take long to learn everything flows down the pipes to HIM. The rework could be anything from an insurance update, missing charges or waiting for a pathology report. This requires communication with our Patient Financial Services office, our Clinical Departments, or Physician queries. It depends on the day, because this always varies.
Currently I’m attending a local college to earn an Associate in Information Technology. Everything in the Medical Record world is moving toward electronics, so I wanted to put the two together. My next goal would be to earn my bachelors degree in HIM. (At the rate I’m going, I become a lifetime student). Coding is not black and white it’s gray. The rules in the outpatient setting change so fast you’ll need a neck brace to treat a case of whiplash trying to keep up. After reading about my current position in HIM, don’t be scared. The average coder usually doesn’t experience all of this. There are opportunities for growth or if you choose you could just code, code, code! I’m “anal” and have a thirst for knowledge and to be challenged with opportunities to gain even more. Remember, all our needs are different. Take your career path in health information in the direction that fits best for you. Good Luck

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