by Darice Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA
(Excerpted with permission: For The Record Vol. 31 No. 2 P. 30)
HIM mentoring can cover a variety of functional areas. Each functional area within the HIM department requires specialized skills. For professionals to work at their utmost performance capacity—both in terms of productivity and quality measures—it takes someone more experienced to take the time to train and encourage them along the way.
The following represent a sampling of different functional areas where mentors can make a difference. Included are potential discussion topics.
Coding: Coding is probably the most obvious function within an HIM department where mentors can make a difference. Coders are usually trained by sitting with a more experienced coder. For a specified time period (usually months), they may have their work double-checked by the assigned trainer.
Instead of just quoting accuracy statistics, mentors might want to audit fewer records and take more time reviewing certain documentation principles. For example, if a coder needs to locate the discharge disposition, showing him or her the various locations in the EHR where it can be found—and how to change it and whom to notify—can be a valuable lesson learned. Encourage new coders to find an “official spot” in the record where this documentation can be found and allow them to work with various departments to reach a consensus on the “one spot” in the record where this will be officially documented vs multiple areas which have content that may conflict.
Release of Information: Individuals who have worked for a facility for a long time have knowledge of all the areas where records may be found. Many facilities have off-site storage and alternate media, including film, cassettes, and audio tapes, hiding in other departments.
Work jointly with mentees to create a master inventory of the various record locations. The development of such a tool can help release of information staff or outsourcing vendors improve processes, an instance in which mentoring benefits not only the mentee but also the entire department.
Leadership: New supervisors are often in a situation where they need a lot of mentoring. It’s tough to manage people for the first time, especially if you are a newer graduate leading an experienced staff.
An experienced manager can assist by allowing the new supervisor to work on simpler tasks such as scheduling and productivity review. Meanwhile, the senior manager can handle any staff personnel reviews or coaching until the newcomer becomes more comfortable.
In cases where a position crosses over into other departments (for example, Tumor Registry may work closely with Oncology, or an HIM manager may work side by side with an IT analyst), it is important to allow time for cross mentoring. Shadowing in another department or attending quality control meetings in those areas may fill a knowledge gap that an employee needs to be more successful.
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Darice Grzybowski, MA, RHIA, FAHIMA
Darice Gryzbowski is President of H.I.Mentors, a company which provides best practice health information and revenue cycle consulting services, education, leadership and key performance indicator software to health care providers. Darice is a sought after lecturer on topics from revenue cycle management to electronic health records and has published over 50 papers and spoken at all major health association conferences across the country. Darice believes strongly and is committed to guiding organizations, students, and staff to reach their highest potential in health information management. Darice can be contacted at [email protected].