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?

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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? 🙂