Find Your Routine: Tools to Tackle Unpredictable Days

Jun 03, 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 asked them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. 


This week, we talked with Meghan Schumacher​, CPC, CPMA, Provider Coding Consultant at Health Information Associates, Inc., about the steps she takes to find her routine.

Q: Describe in detail your daily routine.

A: The first thing I do before I go into my office is make sure I have a cup of coffee! Then I’ll log on and check my emails. I’m on CST and most of my co-workers are on EST, so some mornings a lot has happened by the time I log on that I need to know before starting my day. Once I answer any emails or make necessary phones calls, I’ll get started on coding or reviewing records. Most of my day is coding or reviewing. At the end of the day, I will answer any necessary emails before logging off.


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

A: I believe the key to maintaining a routine is organization. I must have everything I need as far as references, reports, scrap paper, etc. all organized on my desk and desktop, so I can readily access it. I’m also a creature of habit, so I do the same steps in each record:

I enter the record number into Particle, [HIA’s internal database]. Then, I find the record in the client’s system. I enter in all the demographic information, ICD-10-CM/CPT codes from the client’s system. Once everything is entered into Particle, I start reading the note. Then I compare the diagnosis billed to the diagnosis documented and CPT codes if applicable. I then make changes in our system and then the clients – I always make sure they mirror each other. That way I know I don’t miss anything. Once all the updates are made, I complete the chart, send the charge if applicable and move onto the next record. My process is mostly the same for reviewing with a few extra steps and a lot more reading!

Using these tools helps me tackle even the most unpredictable days.


Q: What techniques have you found to minimize distractions?

A: For me to concentrate and work efficiently I need it to be quiet. No music, no talking, just silence. I silence my phone every morning as well and keep it face down, so I don’t get distracted by it. I do tend to answer emails when I receive them. However, if it’s something I can not answer quickly I’ll wait till the end of the day.


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

A: Once I get started on a client and comfortable with their rule and regulations I can start moving pretty quickly through records. Depending on if I’m coding or reviewing and the specific specialty will depend on my goals for productivity. I know about how many I should be doing a day, so I then divide it by how many hours I’m working and that’s how I keep track. If I’m getting x number of charts done an hour, I’m meeting my productivity goals. Quality is just as important if not more important, so I keep that in mind as well.


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

A: I think positive feedback from the clients and HIA is the most rewarding. Financial incentives are always a major plus as well! I think knowing your hard work is recognized and appreciated is very gratifying. I have two signs on my desk, one I got for my birthday last year from HIA, “You got this” and another one I bought that says, “Do what you Love”. These are both reminders that I can do it and I’m blessed to have the opportunity to love what I do!


TIP: I continuously use stick notes on my computer screen of reminders for meetings or steps I need to remember for certain clients. I also have a piece of scrap paper I use to write down any notes or codes, etc. I need to for the charts I’m working.

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