June 18, 2013
5 Minutes with
BC Advantage (BCA): Tell our readers a little about yourself; for example, how long you have been in the industry, skills and expertise etc.?
Laureen jandroep (LJ): I started out as an Occupational Therapist and ran my own therapy practice at age 25. After 10 years Medicare changed the way it reimbursed for therapy and we had to close the doors to that business. Since we did so well with the billing aspect of our practice (less than a .06% rejection rate) we decided to run a billing business. As I was getting that going I taught a billing class to my former employees and some friends to help them find work and ended up loving teaching. In starting up my billing business I quickly learned that I needed to understand coding better (despite what I was told) and I set out to take a course. There was nothing in my local area so I ended up driving 3 hours to take a week long boot camp. That's when I decided there was a need for coding education in my area and got into medical coding and billing instruction full time. I helped develop the associates program at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. I was in the first class for AAPC PMCC instructors and was one of the first to bring online medical coding training to the industry.
I took a break from being my own boss to start a family and worked for CodeRyte (now part of 3M HIS). I sold my online school to the same owner that purchased the AAPC a few months later. The online courses were eventually folded into the AAPC's online course offerings.
During my 7 years with CodeRyte I taught a little bit on the side mostly doing my two-day review class called the "Blitz" which I recorded and sold online. I found a great internet marketer and several more later that took my little operation and grew it to what it is now - over 30,000 visitors per month.
BCA: What do you like about the teaching side of coding that excites you? LJ: Early on I loved seeing when students get it - that "light bulb" moment. I am a very visual learner and to study for myself I would always put things in a graphical format - tables, charts, etc. and would use pneumonics to memorize key information. When I started teaching I'd share how I learned something and that really resonated with the students so I kept doing it. I'm told by many of my students that is what they enjoy most about my teaching style.
BCA: What are some of the questions most asked by people just starting out in the industry and from the more experienced coder? LJ: From the newbies it is "Which organization do I go with?" and "Which credentials do employers really want?" Experienced coders are looking to add to their skill set and get further training and certification so they ask about auditing, compliance officer work, practice management, and what those jobs entail to decide which they should pursue.
BCA: With ICD-10 on the horizon, what are you doing to prepare your coders for the transition from ICD-9? LJ: We have an ICD-10 Mini Course that is designed for those that already understand ICD-9-CM coding and need to get updated. It covers what is the same as ICD-9 and what is different and has lots of cases and examples to code for practice. Personally I love ICD-10 and can't wait to have it in place. And we can't fully say good-bye to ICD-9 because not all payers are going to ICD-10.
BCA: You have a lot of great products on your website (http://codingcertification.org/products); how do you decide what new products to release? LJ: We listen to our followers through our discussion board and social media. For example we had our monthly Q&A webinar last night and they were asking about the new billing credential announced by the AAPC and if we were going to have a course for it. And I'm happy to report that yes we will - I taught this course before so it's just a matter of putting it together online - we expect release in June 2013.
BCA: Do you see ICD-10 having a big impact on the coder and office staff? And in your opinion what do you think will be the biggest issue that they will face? LJ: I think the biggest impact is on all the applications and programs we use - making sure they are ready to accept and use the new format of codes and handle it based on date of service. For the heads down coder it will be a matter of accepting change and getting used to a new format. The basic coding is the same - you start in the index and verify in the tabular and are led by the instructions in the manual. If they've been doing that with ICD-9 then they will be able to do it with ICD-10. They will have to also accept they will be slower at first. And memorizing frequently used codes won't be as easy with a 7 character system versus a 5 digit one.
BCA: Can you give a few tips on helping pass the CPC exam for anyone interested in obtaining this credential? LJ: Well this is my area of expertise. My flagship product - the Blitz review covers all of my tips and content review one would need for the exam. But my overall formula for success is 1) take a good 80 Hour coding course, 2) take a review class (like my Blitz review) and 3 ) do TIMED practice exams until you are scoring an 85%. Then you're ready for the real exam. If your exam date is approaching and you are not able to get an 85% yet then reschedule.
BCA: If the person reading this is not currently certified, what would you say to them about getting a certificate or not? LJ: Well a certificate is not the same thing as a certification. And many new coders don't understand that because the school they went to did not explain it. They promise a certificate in medical coding - which just basically says they completed the course. Many are shocked to find out there is this national coding exam they should take. If you don't have a nationally recognized coding credential like the CPC or CCS then you will have slim chances for getting a coding job with no experience.
BCA: Apart from the obvious ICD-10 implementation in 2014, what other areas do you think will be the big issues for our industry in 2014? LJ: I see electronic medical records (EMRs) and computer assisted coding (CAC) as changing the industry. Many think it means the elimination of coders but I feel it means the elevation of coders. We will become more like auditors of these programs to ensure accuracy and will use them as tools to make us faster and more efficient. Similar to what it was like when encoders came on the market - it made coders faster and perhaps may have eliminated a coder here or there but they did not replace coders.
BCA: In your opinion, what are some of the traits that someone must possess to be a successful instructor? LJ: I think you need to be willing to accept you don't know everything and be able to research something until you do and can teach it thoroughly. Of course truly caring for your students and understand where they are coming from. So many new ones have come into the industry having seen these late night TV ads about a career in medical coding and once they get in they feel a bit duped. I like to get them excited again about this field and assure them that there are jobs out there and that it is a good field to just not give up.
BCA: Anything to add? LJ: I just wanted to let your audience know we try to come out with a new free coding tool, like our modifier grid, every few months and to visit our free resource page to access those goodies. They can get on our newsletter list to stay up to date on what is going on with our company and product/course offerings.