May 2015 Minute with a Member
Leesa A. Israel, CPC, CUC, CEMC, CPPM, CMBS
Managing Editor, The Coding Institute
Tell us a little bit about your career — how you got into coding, what you’ve done during your coding career, what you’re doing now, etc.
I have a degree in communication/journalism and have been a writer, in one form or another, my whole career. I started out in newspapers and trade publications, and then moved to technology publications. About 10 years ago, the newsletter company I worked for was sold and my new employer asked if I was interested in writing about medical coding. I said yes, mostly to keep my job, but it turned out that I loved the coding world.
I become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC®) soon after making the transition into coding, and have since earned my Certified Urology Coder (CUC™), Certified Physician Practice Manager (CPPM®), and Certified Evaluation and Management Coder (CEMC™) credentials through AAPC.
I am now managing editor for Healthcare Handbooks at The Coding Institute. I have written Urology Coding Alert for 10 years, Practice Management Alert for nine years, and I manage several other publications. I also audit, lead provider training, and speak at national and local coding events.
What is your involvement with your local AAPC chapter?
I have attended meetings for a few years and began speaking at the annual chapter conference and other monthly meetings last year. I am the vice president of the Rochester, New York, Flower City Professional Coders chapter.
What AAPC benefits do you like the most?
I love the ability to network with coding professionals, especially at local chapter meetings and conferences. Hearing how coders handle work-related situations and talking with others about their challenges and ideas are invaluable takeaways. The national and regional conferences are a ton of learning and networking rolled up into a few days, which I love!
What has been your biggest challenge as a coder?
Because I write about coding on a national level, my biggest challenge is learning how payers do things differently. No two payers’ policies are alike. Learning those nuances to produce how-to coding content that helps all my readers can be challenging.
How is your organization preparing for ICD-10?
The Coding Institute has been producing specialty-specific ICD-10 coding articles, as well as other ICD-10 products, for several years. We are trying to help our readers learn exactly what they need to know for whatever specialty they code. I took my ICD-10 proficiency assessment (and passed!) about a year ago, and much of our staff has gone through training, as well. We want to be sure we know all the ins and outs of ICD-10 so we can pass that knowledge on to our readers.
If you could do any other job, what would it be?
I would probably always do some sort of writing, but my dream job would be to open a bakery that serves folks with food allergies. My son has multiple life-threatening food allergies, and busy families like ours could really use a place to get quick treats for things like school events and birthday parties. I enjoy baking special treats for my kids, and would love to make a living helping other food allergic families.
How do you spend your spare time? Tell us about your hobbies, family, etc.
Most of my spare time is spent having fun and making awesome memories with my husband, Eric, and our two kids: Riley, 11, and Addison, 4. I love to read, bake, decorate cakes, and do floral arranging. I volunteer as a board member at my daughter’s preschool and I am a leader in my son’s Cub Scout Pack. I also enjoy serving as a lay minister and as my church’s Foodlink event coordinator.