Communication in Health Information Management

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Danna Moore: HIM System Coding Manager

Danna Moore is a HIM System Coding Manager at Lafayette General Hospital in Lafayette, Louisiana.  Her job is to supervise the coding department and obtain responsibility for its daily operations and ensure the accuracy and efficiency of the services provided.

Journey to HIM

Mrs. Moore originally started out as a nursing major at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.  She pursued a nursing degree for two years when she realized that becoming a nurse wasn’t what she wanted for a career.  One of her close friend’s mother had majored in Health Information Management and advised her to look into it.  Mrs. Moore liked learning about the anatomy of the human body but could not stomach having to deal with sick patients or their body fluids.  She chose to switch her major to Health Information Management and got her RHIA certification shortly after receiving her bachelor’s degree.  She worked worked as an inpatient coder for 1 year then did outpatient. After working both she felt that she was well rounded enough to manage over a coding department.  She applied for the System Coding Manager position and got the job. Mrs. Moore has been working as the System Coding Manager for six years.  Through those many years of working, Mrs. Moore learned how important communication is when trying to management the department and provide the best service to patients.

Importance of Communication

Communication is important to Mrs. Moore’s job because coders act as the middle man between patients and their physicians.  Coders communicate in many different ways.  They have to obtain correct information from patients’ records in order to code the correct information.  Nobody is perfect so there is always the possibility of error.  Sometimes a doctor may forget to authenticate, update a patient record or put incorrect or incomplete information.  It’s a coder’s job to make sure that the doctors have signed off on everything that needs a signature.  The coder would have to find a way to get in touch with the doctor.  This is where the communication becomes most important.  The physician is supposed to include all accurate information dealing with the patient but when things are missing it is the coder’s job to get the problem resolved by any means.  Many of the doctors are busy and hard to get in touch with.  You can leave them notes or email them making sure not to put any personal patient information in jeopardy.  When communicating with the physicians you have to make sure that you are clear as to what you need from them and what they meant to have in the record.  For the physicians that dictate the records, the information may not be easy to understand.  The coders would have to be prepared to figure out the correct information for the record through communication with the physician.  Misunderstanding can cause serious problems when dealing with patient records.  Reimbursement can not be accurate if the patient’s record is not accurate.  Abbreviations are common in healthcare.  Coders have to make sure that they understand abbreviations and that physicians are using universal abbreviations instead of something that is invented only for their convenience.  Coding is ideal for people who that don’t mind team work.  Team work is the only way to efficiently satisfy the customers which are the patients.   Coding requires reading physicians handwriting that may not be very legible, writing notes to physicians or other coders, listening to physicians’ dictations, speaking clearly for others to understand, and reading with comprehension of what’s going on.

Qualifications that Benefit You on the Job

You have to love what you do in order to be good at it.  Being that this profession requires many of the same skills of an English class, Mrs. Moore was proud to say that English was her favorite subject and she always excelled in any English class that she took.  Mrs. Moore took pride writing essays, giving speeches and presenting project in front of an audience.  Getting a bachelor’s degree shows your dedication for success.  College is not for everyone.  Many people lack the discipline it takes to endure four years of college after high school.  The process of getting a bachelor’s degree is designed to prepare students for the real world.  First hand experience goes a long way.  The fact that Mrs. Moore went the extra step of getting a certification in RHIA, that also shows her dedication and puts her above others that don’t have the certification.

Goals

Mrs. Moore’s goals are to provide accurate and efficient services to patients through the use of great communications skills in her department.  Being that Mrs. Moore is a manager, she takes responsibility for any errors that the coders make.  Mrs. Moore sets the goals of the department to be error free.  Coders with less errors receive incentive for their good work.  Mrs. Moore’s main goal is to have the best coding department in the state.

Importance of Evolution

Mrs. Moore feels that while communication may be detrimental to her profession, it is important to realize that healthcare is always evolving to become more convenient and beneficial for patients.  It is important to stay updated with technology and work as a team to communicate efficiently.

Myra Orbro, guest blogger

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