Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Uncertain Times

Unprecedented.  Challenging.  Chaotic.  Crisis.  These are words that most certainly apply to the world in which we currently find ourselves.  As we try to figure out how to exist both personally and professionally during this pandemic, this installment of “In the kNOW” will focus on what we as coding professionals can be doing during this difficult time.

As coding professionals, we are finding ourselves in a variety of circumstances.  Some of us may still be working full-time, especially if we are inpatient coders.  Others of us may have been furloughed, laid-off, or even terminated due to the reduction of services at facilities where we are employed.  Each situation has unique needs during this period.

For those still working, it is vital to keep up-to-date with the guidance being provided for coding COVID-19.  The American Hospital Association’s (AHA) Central Office on ICD-10-CM/PCS and the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) collaborated on COVID-19 FAQs which have undergone several updates.  Truly, all coding professionals, whether currently employed or temporarily laid-off, should be monitoring these updates and keeping an eye out for any future revisions.  COVID-19 is going to continue to be an issue for the foreseeable future and coding professionals are the key to collecting data that will be used in research.  It is vital that accurate and consistent application of the coding guidance is applied.

AHIMA has a list of resources available on their website which include coding, release of information, and clinical documentation improvement (CDI).  COVID-19 query templates were developed and are available for download.  There is also information on telehealth and HIPPA enforcement relaxation during the pandemic. 

For those coding professionals that may have more time on their hands, it is a great time to sharpen existing skills or gain new ones.  This can be achieved by taking a course either through AHIMA or one of their component state associations (CSA).  Many CSAs have on-line courses for purchase at reasonable rates.  Of course, there are also webinars that can help us learn or deepen our understanding of coding topics-or any health information management topic to be honest.  Don’t forget AHIMA’s Coffee and Coding webinar series, which is free again this year.

This could also be the time to look at updating your resume.  Granted, the job market might be tough at this moment, but taking the time now to revise a resume will put you a step ahead once jobs open again.  AHIMA has career prep tools on the website which can help.  If you are considering a new job, take some time to practice your interview skills.  This can be a critical step in the employment process and practice can give the necessary confidence to present our best selves.

Let’s look at this situation through a different prism now and see what words we find to focus on:

Temporary. Opportunity.  Life-long learning.  Growth.

This current situation, while challenging, is temporary.  It presents an opportunity for all coding professionals to take advantage of educational offerings and pursue personal growth.  We will emerge stronger than ever on the other side of this pandemic.  

Now you are In the kNOW!!

About the Author 

Dianna Foley, RHIA, CHPS, CCS  is OHIMA's Coding Education Coordinator. Dianna has been an HIM professional for 20 years. She progressed through the ranks of coder, department supervisor, and department director, to her current role as a coding consultant. 

She recently served as the program director for Medical Coding and HIT at Eastern Gateway Community College. Dianna earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Cincinnati subsequently achieving her RHIA, CHPS, and CCS certifications. She is an AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer and a a presenter at regional HIM meetings and the OHIMA Annual Meeting.