Find Your Routine: Be Flexible, Not Frustrated

Jul 08, 2019

When it comes to coding and documentation, finding your own rhythm can lead to positive results. For our series, Find Your Routine, we interviewed our most productive coders and reviewers, asking them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. 


This week, we talked with Valerie Abney​, CDIP, RHIT, CCS, about the steps she takes to find her routine

Q: Describe in detail your daily routine.

A: My day starts about 4:30 – 5 a.m. After making a cup of tea I start the day with a look at my email to see if anything needs immediate attention. I use the flags within Microsoft Office to help prioritize and keep track of those emails that can be addressed later.

After assessing what needs to be accomplished during the day I either start to review records or complete other tasks that need to be done. My routine may vary from day to day depending on what needs to be completed. I set goals on what I want to accomplish today. I wish I could say I always meet the goals I set for myself, but I don’t. I try to be flexible and re-prioritize as the work day progresses. I find that separating chart reviews from other tasks works best for me. Jumping to and from chart review results in more time spent on each chart.


Q: How do you maintain your routine day after day, week after week?

A: Each day is different depending on which project(s) and role that I have been assigned. Each morning I assess what needs to be accomplished that day. How I prioritize each day’s tasks depends on two things – 1) When do they need to be completed and 2) how complex the task is. I am a morning person, so I find that if I schedule and complete the most challenging tasks/charts first and get them out of the way my day goes much smoother and I can focus more intently on the charts I am reviewing.


Q: What techniques have you found to minimize distractions?

A: One of the biggest distractions are those internal distractions. Often something you read will trigger a thought in your mind that will linger there until you take some action. These thoughts can play havoc with your concentration and you find you are re-reading the same documentation over again. I find I need to deal with the bothersome thought to eliminate the distraction. Most of the time all it takes is a quick note on a post-it as a reminder for later. It could be anything from needing to responding to an email or picking up a prescription or needing to water a plant. I find that if I quickly deal with that momentary distraction my concentration is better, and I am more productive. Putting that thought on paper allows me to let it go.


Q: What are the productivity goals that you set for yourself? And how do you track them?

A: My goal is to exceed the productivity goals that are set for the various type of reviews that we do. I accept that sometime the chart mix or the hospitals EMR will make it challenging to meet the goal on a specific day. I try not to focus on what I do in a single day but instead look at the week as a whole as this averages the good and not so good days together. The productivity reports we have available are great to monitor how I am doing and where improvement is needed.


Q: What motivates you the most? Positive feedback from managers, self-motivation by reaching personal goals, financing incentives? Or other?

A: I think the biggest motivator is knowing that I am meeting (or even better, exceeding) the productivity goals that has been established. It is important to me to feel that I am doing my best each day.

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