Find Your Routine: Take Advantage of Educational Opportunities

Aug 14, 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, reviewers and members of our education team, asking them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. 


This week, we talked with Beth Martilik​, MA, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, Assistant Director of Education, about the steps she takes to find her routine.

Q: Explain your role at HIA.

A: The Education Department at HIA is committed to providing quality educational resources to our coding staff to maintain the best-of-the-best reputation we enjoy with our clients. A major component of our ongoing education is the Sharepoint Coding Q&A site. Staff can submit difficult or confusing cases for assistance in coding. My primary responsibility is to research these cases and provide any education or recommendations back to the coder.

In addition to Sharepoint, I also assist in the development of Action Plans, one-hour modules that address specific topics that may present problems to the coders. It is critical that coders keep learning and expanding their knowledge of disease processes and surgical procedures. The Action Plans allow the coder to focus on any areas of weakness, either understanding a condition or procedure, or further training on coding dilemmas.


Q: Explain the process you use when answering any questions that are posted. What references do you use?

A: The process is simple. I read the question first to get a clear idea what the coder wants to know. Coders/reviewers are encouraged to be specific with their questions and not just ask if their codes are correct. This allows me to target the problem area only without recoding of a case.

Once I know what I need to look for, I review any documentation that the coder has attached. We require the coder/reviewer to attach any pertinent documentation that may help to answer the question. This adds a little more time to the process for the coder but allows for the most accurate and complete response.

I make use of all the usual coding resources, including Coding Clinic, CPT Assistant, and Coding Clinic for HCPCS. Anatomy references are a must in deciphering difficult procedure notes. My best friend is YouTube because I find it much easier to code a procedure if I can visualize it first.


Q: How many questions do you answer on a daily basis?

A: We average 15-20 questions per day.


Q: How does this help HIA’s coders maintain their productivity goals?

A: We encourage our coders to submit questions to Sharepoint only after they have attempted to find the answer. HIA has a bank of over thousands of questions and answers that can be accessed. However, in many cases research may take a great deal of time. If a coder has not come to a satisfactory resolution of their question in 10-15 minutes, we ask that they go ahead and submit the question to Sharepoint. This will allow the Education staff to further research the question and permit the coder to maintain productivity for the client. It is not unusual for it to take an hour or more on some difficult operative notes in order to recommend appropriate codes back to the coder.


Q: What advice would you offer coders to stay ahead of the rising productivity standards in our industry?

A: The more a coder knows, the easier it is to code a record. I would encourage coders to take advantage of any educational opportunities to learn more about different medical conditions and surgical procedures. YouTube is a great resource and it is free!


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