Coding Education for Providers: Creating a Positive Environment

By Victoria Jennings, RHIA, CCS, CPC-A

Here is what you specifically need to understand about education: “When an atmosphere encourages learning, learning is inevitable.” (Elizabeth Foss)

Well, that sounds very reasonable. But what makes an “atmosphere that encourages learning?” Thinking now of my providers, what will increase their willingness to learn?

I have been educating providers on correct coding for 8 years. In my experience, I find that most providers want to be perceived as reputable and responsible team members. They are trying to learn what they need to know about documentation and coding so they can get back to the business of medicine.

Many times coding education for providers occurs in response to an internal audit. A failed audit, to be specific. Any “failing” provider needs education so with this intention, the Coding Education Team schedules the required training.

Unfortunately, this process does not create an atmosphere that encourages learning. Providers are on defense. They feel criticized. They are even at times perceived as being “against” the Coding Education Team. In the worst cases, organizational culture can become infected with negativity.

My recommendation is to focus on the results you want rather than the results you do not want. Rather than point out every error, provide examples of better, more complete, more accurate documentation. Rather than harp on missed diagnoses, help the provider create documentation that draws a line from their clinical indicators to a diagnosis that can be reported.

I start with what I know. I keep it straightforward. I simplify complex coding rules into a handful of easy changes each time we meet. I focus on the little things that make the most difference. I tailor the training to the specifics of the individual provider’s learning gaps and create an easy pathway to success.

And I prepare. I know the applicable coding rules. I know the clinical indicators. I know the billing guidelines. I know the problems that have occurred in the past and the impact those problems had on our organization. Providers will take instruction from someone they feel is credible. They will lose patience and you will lose their attention if you have not prepared adequately for the training encounter.

I know for myself, I am willing to learn more when I can have meaningful conversations with knowledgeable trainers. I will take steps to make changes to my work habits when I feel rewarded for my successes. I will have better success in my education sessions with providers when I am nice and lead with kindness.

It is all about creating a positive learning environment for your providers.


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About the Author
Victoria Jennings, RHIA, CCS, CPC-A
Victoria is the new acquisitions/new provider Coding Educator with Millennium Physician Group, a large multispecialty physician group with over 500 providers throughout the state of Florida. She has worked in the Education field as a Program Director for an RHIT and Coding Diploma program and was responsible for their accreditation with CAHIIM. Vicki enjoyed a role within compliance with Lee Health as a compliance investigator and external Audit Coordinator, She has also worked as an outpatient and inpatient coder for the hospital side as well as a Profee coder and educator for physician groups. She has also been a presenter for the local AAPC chapter on several occasions.

About the Author

Libman Education
Libman Education Inc. is a leading provider of training for the health care workforce offering self-paced and instructor-led online courses designed and developed by leading industry experts in Health Information Management (HIM) and Medical Record Coding. Our courses are specifically designed to improve individual skills and increase the efficiencies and competencies of health care providers and institutions. At Libman Education, we understand the needs and challenges of a well-trained workforce and offer the right-mix of online education to ensure that the health care professionals are prepared to meet the challenges of the changing workplace.

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