This week, we talked with Brooke Sechrest, RHIT, CCS, Coding Specialist with Health Information Associates, about the steps she takes to find her routine.
Q: Describe in detail your daily routine.
A: I check HIA email, if it’s something that can wait until the end of the day, I do that. Since we do so much reading throughout the day, I try to limit the amount of information in the morning before I begin coding – I feel that’s best. Next, I check my client email and pending chart list. If I have any high dollar accounts or accounts that have been pending for a long length of time that I know the client would want dropped immediately I will take care of those, otherwise I will complete charts at the end of my shift or throughout the day. Here is why – when I know I have 8 full hours to work, I spend more time re-reviewing those pending charts. When I leave those charts for the end of the day, there’s only so much time that I can spend on them. Also, if I feel I need a break from a “new” chart throughout the day, I may switch over and do a pending chart just to give my mind somewhat of a break. I almost always take a break a couple hour into work, but if I’m feeling extremely productive that day and have a good rhythm going, I will wait until lunch time. After lunch I code for the rest of the afternoon. I will check email again and complete any pending charts usually about the last hour of the day.
When I start coding a chart, I enter all account information in log and do any abstracting—disposition, admitting, and attending—take care of all of that first. ED, H&P, consult, progress reports, and discharge summary. I check CDI for any queries and just read their notes to make sure there is nothing missing on my end. If query is needed, I will complete that at that point.
Q: How do you maintain your routine day after day, week after week?
A: I think once you understand all of your client’s policies/procedures, their EMR and coding system, and their physicians and how they document you can start to develop a good routine. I started to notice doing the same thing over and over each day that I was only getting better. It did take time to get there, but once I started to consistently reach my goal, I knew that is WAS possible and could be done and the negative thoughts of “I can’t do it” were finally out of my head. At the end of the day I feel like I’ve done my job and that makes me feel happy and want to continue that each day.
Q: What techniques have you found to minimize distractions?
A: My two biggest distractions were the cell phone and email. I’ve learned in order for me to be productive, my phone has to be out of sight. It’s too easy to grab it when it’s near. Even just spending a couple minutes on it during a chart can throw me completely off. I also have to exit completely out of emails. Otherwise, I think I can multitask by answering an email while I’m in the middle of a chart and the email ends up taking way more time than I thought. The sound of an email notification or seeing one come through while I’m in a chart will have me wondering what it says, so I find it best to exit out. If something is urgent, the client has your phone number.
Q: What are the productivity goals that you set for yourself? And how do you track them?
A: My goal is to code two charts an hour. This is what most of the clients that I have worked for expect. I find that thinking of and setting my goal of two charts an hour, rather than thinking of it as 16 charts in a full day makes it easier for me to work through. I like to keep an eye on the timer each time I’m in a chart, and make sure that I stay around the 30-minute mark per chart. If I feel that I’m behind, I’ll take a look at lunch time and see where I was at 4 hours and how many more charts, I need to hit goal and see how much time that leaves me per chart and just try and set goals that way throughout the day. Thankfully, HIA tracks our number of charts coded per day and the time it took to code each and this is visible to us during coding so that we don’t have to track time ourselves.
Q: What motivates you the most? Positive feedback from managers, self-motivation by reaching personal goals, financing incentives? Or other?
A: For me, all of the above could be motivating. Thinking back to when I really started to consistently hit productivity, I was self-motivated as well at motivated by my co-workers and how they were performing. I would hear that other coders that I worked with were hitting their productivity goals and that made me question myself. There’s no reason why I shouldn’t be at 100% too. If I am not doing my job at 100% then I feel like I have failed. I also remind myself that the company I work for only wants the best of the best, and I’m extremely lucky to be here, so I need to represent them the best I can!
TIP: What else can I do to meet productivity? Speed reading. Don’t spend too much time reading each and every sentence in the notes. I would take a good look at the most important notes such as H&P, Consults, DS, and then scan/speed read the rest. Most of the time there’s a lot of repeat in the notes, and if there’s not, it will stand out to you. I think if your quality is under control, give speed reading a try to increase productivity.