Find Your Routine: Be Flexible, Not Frustrated
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 reviewers, asking them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them.
This week, we talked with Valerie Abney, CDIP, RHIT, CCS, about the steps she takes to find her routine.
Q: Describe in detail your daily routine.
A: My day starts about 4:30 – 5 a.m. After making a cup of tea I start the day with a look at my email to see if anything needs immediate attention. I use the flags within Microsoft Office to help prioritize and keep track of those emails that can be addressed later.
After assessing what needs to be accomplished during the day I either start to review records or complete other tasks that need to be done. My routine may vary from day to day depending on what needs to be completed. I set goals on what I want to accomplish today. I wish I could say I always meet the goals I set for myself, but I don’t. I try to be flexible and re-prioritize as the work day progresses. I find that separating chart reviews from other tasks works best for me. Jumping to and from chart review results in more time spent on each chart.
Q: How do you maintain your routine day after day, week after week?
A: Each day is different depending on which project(s) and role that I have been assigned. Each morning I assess what needs to be accomplished that day. How I prioritize each day’s tasks depends on two things – 1) When do they need to be completed and 2) how complex the task is. I am a morning person, so I find that if I schedule and complete the most challenging tasks/charts first and get them out of the way my day goes much smoother and I can focus more intently on the charts I am reviewing.
Q: What techniques have you found to minimize distractions?
A: One of the biggest distractions are those internal distractions. Often something you read will trigger a thought in your mind that will linger there until you take some action. These thoughts can play havoc with your concentration and you find you are re-reading the same documentation over again. I find I need to deal with the bothersome thought to eliminate the distraction. Most of the time all it takes is a quick note on a post-it as a reminder for later. It could be anything from needing to responding to an email or picking up a prescription or needing to water a plant. I find that if I quickly deal with that momentary distraction my concentration is better, and I am more productive. Putting that thought on paper allows me to let it go.
Q: What are the productivity goals that you set for yourself? And how do you track them?
A: My goal is to exceed the productivity goals that are set for the various type of reviews that we do. I accept that sometime the chart mix or the hospitals EMR will make it challenging to meet the goal on a specific day. I try not to focus on what I do in a single day but instead look at the week as a whole as this averages the good and not so good days together. The productivity reports we have available are great to monitor how I am doing and where improvement is needed.
Q: What motivates you the most? Positive feedback from managers, self-motivation by reaching personal goals, financing incentives? Or other?
A: I think the biggest motivator is knowing that I am meeting (or even better, exceeding) the productivity goals that has been established. It is important to me to feel that I am doing my best each day.
In Part 5, we focused on identifying the approach being used for the spinal fusion. In Part 6, we are going to focus on identifying the type of bone graft used for the spinal fusion.
In Part 4, we focused on determining the spinal column being fused. In Part 5, we are going to focus on identifying what approach is being used to complete the spinal fusion (anterior, posterior or both).
This past year, HIA implemented “Buddy Up,” a program designed to help the new hire have a smooth transition into their new HIA roles with the assistance of a “buddy.” What is a Buddy? The Buddy is simply a peer who can guide the new hire in order to make them feel more comfortable. We are very proud of this program and have many success stories that we would like to share. Take a look at the wonderful feedback we have received below.
In Part 3, we focused on determining the level of the fusion(s) and how to determine the number of vertebrae fused. In Part 4, we are going to focus on identifying which column is being fused (anterior, posterior or both).
Part 3: Spinal Fusion Coding — Determine the Level(s) or Region of Fusion and Number of Vertebrae Fused
In Part 1, we learned the diagnoses associated with the need for spinal fusions, and in Part 2 the need to identify if the fusion is an initial or refusion of the vertebrae. In Part 3, we are going to focus on determining the level(s) of fusion, as well as the number of vertebrae fused.
In Part 2, we are going to look at the differences between initial fusion and a refusion. In ICD-9, there were specific codes to show if the fusion was an initial fusion, or if it was a refusion. In ICD-10-PCS, initial fusions and refusion procedures are coded to the same root operation “fusion.”
This is Part 1 of a 14 part series focusing on education for spinal fusions. Spinal fusion coding is a tough job for coders. There are so many diseases/disorders that result in the need for spinal fusion, and even more choices in reporting the ICD-10-PCS codes.
The official definition from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) states that a Medicare overpayment is a payment that exceeds amounts properly payable under Medicare statutes and regulations. When Medicare identifies an overpayment, the amount becomes a debt you owe the Federal government.
The question asked in a physician query may be the most important element of the document. Query questions need to be as simple and concise as possible. The physician should have no doubt what the coder is asking.
Coding complications of transplanted organs has always been a coding dilemma. With the implementation of ICD-10-CM that didn’t change. However, coders have multiple directives to help in determining what a complication of the transplant is vs. non-transplant conditions and diseases.
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.
With the implementation of ICD-10-CM came more codes for reporting many different conditions and diseases, and atrial fibrillation is one of those. For many years there was only one code available for reporting this condition, even when the physician further specified the type of atrial fibrillation that the patient had. In ICD-10-CM, there are four codes to report atrial fibrillation.
We have a case where the physician removes mucoid casts found during bronchoscopy. We have also seen mucus plugs removed during bronchoscopy. The MD performs bronchial washings then removes a large amount of tenacious and thick mucoid casts via bronchoscopy. Is this coded drainage, extirpation or excision? What body part is used?
The key to making the query process more efficient is to look for words or documentation while reviewing the record that may signal a potential query opportunity and to note the finding at that time. By the time a coder reaches the end of a record, documentation may have been found to eliminate the need for the query.
Question: This patient is noted to have “Lymphangitic carcinomatosis of lungs with mediastinal lymph nodes.” How would I code the diagnosis? Would I code metastatic cancer to the lung (C78.01) or metastatic cancer to the lymph nodes (C77.1)?
Coding these can be challenging for coders when trying to decipher the operative notes and terms that are used. The physicians are still using the terms excision and resection interchangeably and review of the entire operative note is required to select the appropriate root operation. Remember, it is the coder’s responsibility to determine the root operation based on the details from the physician in the operative report.
This would be considered a “mechanical” complication of the stent graft since the MD states it is a fracture of the endograft and it is folded over on itself. I would change T82.898A TO T82.598A for Other mechanical complication of other cardiac and vascular devices and implants, initial encounter. I did not use “displacement” because the surgeon did not state that the graft was displaced, only that it collapsed upon itself causing obstruction.
Osteoporosis alone is responsible for over a million fractures every year. Stress fractures are not as common but they do occur. There are more than 1 million total joint replacements in the U.S. each year, so there was a need to create codes for injuries that occur around or near the prosthesis. These are called “periprosthetic” fractures.
Back in April, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) published a report detailing its findings from a review of two groups of high-risk diagnosis codes, acute stroke and major depressive disorder. The objective was to determine whether selected diagnosis codes submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for use in CMS’s risk adjustment program complied with Federal requirements.
There seems to be differences of opinions on the issue of a 40w0day gestation Can you clarify if P08.21 should be assigned for 40w0day infant or if it would not be assigned unless the infant’s gestation age was 40w1day or greater?
Coders may find situations where a patient is documented as meeting SIRS or sepsis criteria, or has some clinical indicators reflective of possible sepsis, but the physician never documents sepsis as a diagnosis. Should the coder always query for sepsis in these instances?
In this example, would it be appropriate to code the complication code T82.03XA, Leakage of heart valve prosthesis, initial encounter as the principal diagnosis over the HFpEF (heart failure exacerbation) code?
We interviewed our most productive coders and reviewers, asking them what steps they take to find a rhythm that works for them. This week, we talked with Kerry Atkins, CDIP, CCS‑P, COC, CPC, CPCO, CPMA, CEMC, COBGC, RMB, Physician Services Consultant at HIA, about the steps she takes to find her routine.
With the implementation of ICD-10-PCS more codes were developed in order to accurately report procedures. Spinal fusion coding is still a problematic coding issue and at times, even a coder’s nightmare. Coders often report only the code for the fusion thinking that one code would include all of the other procedures that are performed.
Answer: I would code 0HPT0NZ for removal of tissue expander from right breast, open and change 0HPT0JZ, removal of synthetic substitute from right breast, open, for removal of the acellular dermal matrix to 0HPT0KZ, Removal of nonautologous tissue substitute from right breast, open approach.
There are certain conditions that have instructional notes in the ICD-10-CM tabular/coding conventions that guide the coder in sequencing. This is especially true when the condition has a common manifestation or underlying conditions of a chronic disease. If there is a “code first” note in the tabular, the coder should follow this instruction and sequence the underlying etiology or chronic condition first followed by the manifestation as an additional diagnosis.
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 reviewers 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.
Last year, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) performed an investigation that found, “between 2014 and 2016, Medicare Advantage organizations overturned 75% of their preauthorization and payment denials upon appeal,” which is why, at HIA, we always advise our clients to engage in the appeals process.
There may be instances where a coder will suspect the patient has acute kidney injury (AKI), but the physician has failed to document the diagnosis. In another scenario, the physician may have made the diagnosis, but there is a question of clinical validity. In either case, a query would be justified.