Bernadette Woods, Registered Health Information Administrator and Clinical Documentation Improvement Practitioner, is a Medical Records Administrative Specialist in the Health Administration Services Department at the VA Medical Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. Bernadette graduated in 2010 with an Associate’s degree in Health Information Management and then again with a Bachelor’s degree in Health Informatics and Information Management in 2013. Her first job in Health Information Management was in 2011 as a Release of Information Specialist. I am also pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Health Informatics and Information Management, and Bernadette is one of my Mentors in this field of study.
Pros and Cons of effective Communication
As a Medical Records Administrative Specialist, you have to have strong communication skills. Bernadette has to interact and communicate with medical providers, fellow co-workers, and supervisors from various departments within the VA Medical Center in addition to external vendors. Bernadette primarily works independently, but she has job tasks that heavily rely on strong communication skills in the workplace.
Bernadette began the interview by stating “on a scale from 1 to 10, the job task associated with communication in the workplace registers as an 8”. The score of the scale varies because it greatly depends on the tasks that she’s working on because she doesn’t always rely on communication in the workplace to complete her daily job tasks. The communication methods that she uses the most are verbal communication and written communication. Some examples of the verbal communication methods that she uses in her daily job duties are communicating via telephone, through staff meetings, and occasionally video conference calls. Some examples of the written communication methods that she uses in her daily job duties are through email messages, memorandums, provider queries, the facility text alert system, share point access, and written comments that she posts via the Coding Compliance Management System. Bernadette explained that she uses written communication in the workplace the most because employees are spread throughout at the VA with some working remotely and others at several satellite sites in conjunction to the main facility. The use of written communication in the workplace also allows her to have a tracking mechanism to track errors and queries. According to Bernadette, “it’s like having a checks and balance system”.
Some positive aspects of communication in the workplace are that it allows for greater efficiency in daily job duties and the workflow process is better. Communication among fellow co-workers, medical providers, patients, and third-party vendors can build stronger rapport and working relationships. According to Bernadette, communication in the workplace allows you to gauge effectiveness and completeness of getting tasks accomplished which better enhances accuracy, timeliness, and productivity. For example, employees don’t use auto reply messages to communicate when they’re out of office as a courtesy to other staff and to inform others of who to contact in their absence. Emails are sometimes deleted before being read and ignored, or simply not responded to. Another example is technical network failures. They can occur because of system crashes or updates as well as weather issues that are beyond human control. When asked what she does in the event written communication isn’t effective, Bernadette replied that she has to result to communicating orally by phone, face to face visits to offices or workstations, or seek out other subject matter experts to obtain the information that she needs to complete tasks.
In Bernadette’s opinion, communication in the workplace as it relates to Health Administration Services has “improved substantially over the last several years due to advances in technology with use of smartphones, laptops, and tablets”. The improvements have enabled communication in the workplace to be more effective and efficient. Despite the advantages of written communication Bernadette made it clear, “you need to continue to communicate one-on-one so you don’t lose those skills, human interaction is important”.
Posted by Catrese Coston, guest blogger