Information governance, cybersecurity discussed at RIHIMA

Last week, I attended the annual meeting of the Rhode Island chapter of AHIMA. The event, held in Warwick, drew 70+ people as well as several vendors. It was a day filled with a wide variety of presentations, a delicious breakfast and lunch, and many opportunities for networking. The best part was that I only needed to travel 10 minutes from my home!

The day began with an overview of AHIMA’s strategic goals and initiatives. Tim J. Keough, MPA, RHIA, FAHIMA, of the AHIMA board of directors, spoke about the importance of data in healthcare — and why HIM is well-suited for the role of data analyst. He urged HIM professionals to lead the charge in the current data revolution — that is, to look for ways in which their organizations can turn data into health intelligence that can mitigate risk and improve outcomes.

Keough also talked about information governance through data transparency, data protection, and data integrity. As the industry continues to tap into big data for precision medicine, he said HIM should be at the forefront managing, using, and improving this data.

Cybersecurity expert, John H. Rogers, CISSP, gave a great presentation on the growing risk that hackers pose to health information privacy and security. “Healthcare information is more valuable than any other information on the market,” he said.

HIM professionals must make cybersecurity a core mission of the organization. This requires ongoing staff education, virus protection/patch updates, and social engineering testing. “It’s not just about the technology. Situational awareness is your power,” he said.

On the coding side, Barry Libman, MS, RHIA, CDIP, CCS, CCS-P, CIC, provided a helpful overview of important ICD-10-CM/PCS changes that will go into effect for FY 2017 on October 1, 2016. In particular, there are 3,651 new PCS codes (many of which are cardio-related) and 1,943 new CM codes, including a new code for the Zika virus (A92.5).

Attorney Jennifer Cox, JD gave an update on the ever-evolving Meaningful Use (MU) program, urging attendees to perform a security risk analysis if they haven’t done so already. Cox said this analysis is the number one reason providers fail to meet MU criteria.

David L. Rousseau, director of cancer information systems at the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, talked about the importance of cancer registries and why this is a good fit for HIM.

Perhaps the most riveting presentation was given by Michael G. Cooley, executive director of Nalari Health. Cooley shared his personal journey to overcome many challenges and hardships to ultimately find success both personally and professionally. His story, which also serves as the basis for his memoir “Rock Bottom: From the Streets To Success,” was extremely inspirational and unexpected. It also serves as a reminder of the strength of the human spirit — a good lesson for all of us.

 

A snapshot of the 24th annual AAPC conference

I was lucky enough to be able to attend the recent HEALTHCON conference sponsored by the American Academy of Professional Coders. The 24th annual event, held in Orlando April 9-13, drew nearly 2,700 attendees — many of them physician practice coders. More than 50 vendors also exhibited at the conference, providing the opportunity for networking and checking out the latest and greatest technology. Plus, there were many fun giveaways and prizes (I always enjoy grabbing some extra pens!).

The schedule was jam packed with sessions touching on EMRs, coding/billing compliance, HIPAA, productivity, practice management, telemedicine, value-based payments, and more. It was a coder’s dream — a smorgasbord of all things coding! Speakers included physicians, consultants, attorneys, and others. Every session I attended was held in a room filled with bright-eyed coders ready and willing to take notes, ask questions, and absorb information like a sponge.

Following are just a few of the noteworthy highlights:

  1. Coders and billers must learn the lingo of denials. Read the EOB carefully. Track and trend denial codes, and implement carrier-specific edits. -Yvonne Dailey
  2. 90%-93% of denials are preventable because they’re due to data entry errors. Design front-end processes that ensure accurate demographic and financial information. -Yvonne Dailey
  3. Physician practices need policies and procedures. Every practice should have these policies in place: Financial policy, bad debt/write offs, financial hardship, compliance, claim correction, refunds. -Yvonne Dailey
  4. Physicians must ensure that their personal mobile devices conform to enterprise-wide policies and procedures for HIPAA compliance. -Steve Spearman
  5. The biggest hurdle in terms of billing for transitional care management is being able to receive discharge notifications. Practices must develop relationships with hospitals to establish this workflow. -Stephen Canon
  6. Wearable devices will improve preventive medicine. That’s because these devices will continuously gather data in real-time, providing much richer health histories. What will this mean for HIM? There are many privacy implications. We’ll need new permission models that must be more sophisticated and perhaps even rely on time-limited boundaries. We’ll also need to be able to filter information based on the end user/recipient of that data. -Scott Klososky
  7. Auto-population in the EMR is risky business because it affects credibility. -Michael Miscoe
  8. Some Medicaid contractors and commercial payers are asking for the EMR audit trail. -Robert Pelaia
  9. When reporting time-based codes, coders need to question whether the payer is using CMS or AMA guidelines. -Michael Strong
  10. Data is becoming the new currency. By 2030, consumers will be able to shop for and compare physicians. We’ll also see more bundled payments, the expansion of telemedicine, and the consolidation of smaller practices into larger integrated practices. -Dan Schwebach
  11. Coders are salespeople — they must “sell” the importance of coding to physicians. -Stephanie Cecchini
  12. As soon as you feel comfortable, it’s time to learn something new. -Stephanie Cecchini
  13. Templates are a tool — not a “be all end all” when it comes to selecting a code. You still need to question/validate the code and ensure that documentation supports code assignment. -Angela Jordan
  14. Coding quality is just as important as coding productivity. -Ann Bina
  15. When setting productivity standards, consider these factors: Page count, access to coding tools, experience, handwritten vs. electronic notes, Internet speed, provider (resident vs. physician), non-coding duties, and more. -Ann Bina

 

 

 

Effective communication starts with YOU

As a freelance writer, I spend the majority of my time “heads down” writing healthcare content. However, I also spend a good chunk of my day interviewing subject matter experts and chatting with potential clients. Either way, I need to be able to “cut to the chase” in as few words as possible. This is not unlike HIM directors who must often convey information quickly and effectively –particularly when speaking with members of the c-suite. These meetings tend to address a variety of topics/questions — Should we move CDI specialists offsite? Can we afford to hire another FTE coder? What’s the strategy to engage patients in portal technology? How can we get outpatient physicians on board with clinical documentation improvement? The list goes on!

Here are three tips I’ve learned over the years that could help HIM directors — or anyone for that matter — speak their case with ease:

  1. Less is more. Keep it relatively brief and to the point. Encourage questions so you can tailor your content accordingly, but always be mindful of others’ time/schedules.
  2. Do your homework. When I’m preparing for an interview, I research the topic and prepare at least 5 questions in advance. When preparing for a meeting, plot out your overall agenda and specific goals for the conversation. What information do you need to convey? What are the next steps that must be accomplished after the conclusion of the meeting? Compile any necessary statistics/data in advance so you can make decisions most efficiently.
  3. Think “what does the audience want?” In my case, the audience may be an interviewee or potential client. What do they feel they need to tell me about the topic? Or what are they looking for specifically in terms of content management/production? When preparing to speak with the c-suite, for example, what’s the best approach that will solicit buy-in? For example, when approving an FTE coding position, executives don’t want to know all of the details related to new ICD-10 codes effective October 1. They simply want to know trends in productivity and quality — and why this necessitates the need for an additional coder.

What strategies are most effective for you in your own organization?

5 traits that HIM directors and freelance writers have in common

I was listening to a webinar the other day that was geared toward freelance writers. As the speaker discussed various aspects of running a successful freelance writing business, it struck me that there are many overlaps with running an efficient HIM department. Following are 5 commonalities between HIM directors and freelance writers:

  1. HIM directors and freelance writers wear many hats. A good freelance writer is also a marketer, salesperson, quality control manager, bookkeeper, maintenance worker, IT providers, and customer service representative. Likewise, a savvy HIM director is also a project manager, patient advocate, and process improvement specialist.
  2. HIM directors and freelance writers must be flexible. As directors of one of the most critical departments in an organization, HIM professionals must be able to adapt daily — and sometimes by the minute — to whatever circumstances come their way. This is no different for freelance writers.
  3. HIM directors and freelance writers must focus on customer service at all times. For a freelance writer, customer service is paramount — and it keeps clients coming back for more content. In healthcare, customers are the patients who frequent the organization. HIM directors must always put patients first — responding professionally to requests for information, questions about privacy/security, questions about billing, and more.
  4. HIM directors and freelance writers may sometimes have self-limiting beliefs. Even despite a well-honed skillset, some freelance writers may doubt their abilities to make a living as a writer. HIM directors are no different. Despite their vast knowledge of coding, HIPAA, release of information, clinical documentation, and more, many fear that they aren’t qualified to take a seat at the decision-making table. [I’m here to say that the seat is available — take it!]
  5. HIM directors and freelance writers must view themselves as problem solvers. A successful freelance writer has the ability to identify clients’ problems and offer solutions (via content) that are address those problems. HIM directors are also problem-solvers within their organizations. They can help researchers and physicians interpret clinical data; improve data integrity; and explain patterns in morbidity, mortality, readmissions, and more.

As an HIM professional, how else might your career be similar to mine?  Where are the overlaps? If you could switch with me for a day, would you do it? 🙂