Face Change Head On and Learn “To Be”

Avoid resistance and become an advocate for positive change.

By Marilyn Holley, RHIT, CPC, CPC-I, CHISP
Learning is part of your everyday experience, even if there are some lessons you’d rather avoid. This is especially true when you must deal with change.
Humans seek stability and strive to maintain consistency. It’s little wonder that when change does occur — even though it may bring needed improvements — people are often skeptical, if not downright resistant. Much like a young child digging in his heels, kicking and screaming while his mother drags him to a much needed, long delayed bath, you may find yourselves pleading: Do I have to? I like things the way they are. Can’t it wait until tomorrow?
As adults and professionals, however, you should (like the mother in the scenario) recognize the need to take action. Ask yourself:

  • Do I have a vision of where healthcare is going, and how can I assist in getting there?
  • Do I adamantly resist necessary tasks that are unpleasant, uncomfortable, or difficult?
  • Are my healthcare providers resistant to change?
  • How can I get my providers “into the bathtub,” and help them to see the positive aspects of the change?

Meeting Change with Positive Action

Each of us has a “To Do” list that is continually changing, based on our personal and professional goals. While anticipating checking “ICD-10-CM coding implementation” off your “To Do” list in 2015, you might also consider creating a “To Be” list to motivate you to become a medical professional of the future, employing your skills to elevate the healthcare delivery system. Your “To Be” list might include:

  • To be a learner every day. Whether it’s learning about a new medical procedure or advances in medicine, or what is happening in the healthcare delivery system at large or within your local healthcare community, develop the mindset that learning never ends. Embrace opportunities to stretch your mind and expand your capacity. Seek opportunities to learn from the physicians and healthcare workers within your organization.
  • To be a teacher every day. Look for opportunities to share your knowledge with your associates. Phil Collins may have said it best: “In teaching you will learn, in learning you will teach.” For example, a medical coder who is willing to mentor providers in a thoughtful, professional manner will build trust and enforce the value of a skilled coder as the “go to” source when providers and clinical staff have coding-related questions. This relationship also opens the door to coders who need answers to clarify and further understand clinical questions.
  • To be one who sees the value of the role you play in your corner of the healthcare delivery system, and to look beyond. Look for areas of interest that will elevate your capabilities, and be willing to work towards achieving the skills that will take you there. Explore opportunities to gain further education in medical auditing and compliance, health information technology, and software skills.
  • To be optimistic when challenged, and to be willing to offer thoughtful solutions. As Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” You need to think creatively, and to be part of the solution when issues arise.

When made with thought and care, your To Be list will better equip you to coax your providers into the soapy waters of ICD-10-CM, and beyond.

The Power of One

Each medical professional contributes to the healthcare delivery system in key ways. Although it may seem small compared to the role physicians and clinical staff play, the role of coders, billers, auditors, and other healthcare professionals is significant. You might even compare it to the role of a honeybee.
A honeybee is innately driven to pollinate, gather nectar, and turn the nectar into honey. During a honeybee’s short life of six to eight weeks, it will travel the equivalent of 1½ times the circumference of the earth to produce an average of 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey. That may seem small, but each bee’s contribution is vital to the life of the beehive.
Likewise, the daily task of correct code assignment is essential to healthcare. Coders contribute to the financial health of the practices in which they work, as well as the accuracy of nation-wide health data collection, which ultimately enhances healthcare delivery.
The power of one well educated, well trained, and fully engaged medical business professional is truly far reaching.
Marilyn Holley, RHIT, CPC, CPC-I, CHISP, is director of education at AAPC.

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Renee Dustman, BS, AAPC MACRA Proficient, is managing editor - content & editorial at AAPC. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Media Communications - Journalism. Renee has more than 30 years' experience in journalistic reporting, print production, graphic design, and content management. Follow her on Twitter @dustman_aapc.

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