5 minutes with... Martina Davis

How long have you been in the billing and coding industry?
I've been in the medical administrative field for nearly 11 years now. I started off doing front desk in a dental office before moving to an entry-level cash posting position with a large billing company. I became interested in coding and learned a few things about coding from the other coders in the cubicles near mine and that made me want to know more. I did a "crash course" in coding so when a position became available in the coding department they allowed me to move departments and I started in assisting coding workers compensation claims. Before long, the workers compensations claims were my responsibility. After 3 years, I took a position as the sole coder for an orthopedic surgeon where I have been for 6 years.

What do you enjoy about your position?
I really enjoy getting a whole pile of superbills and charts and coding it from start to finish. I get a great sense of accomplishment from that. I really enjoy coding the surgeries as well. I also enjoy that I don't have to talk to patients as well. I see the ladies who do billing and collections getting abused for trying to collect what their own insurance company has allocated as their patient responsibility and what the doctor is rightfully owed. Some people have just no clue and are so rude. That's just something that I couldn't take.

What do you like the least?
When I worked at the billing company there was a whole team of coders so when someone had a problem we worked things through together. At the orthopedic office I'm the only coder so if I come across something that I'm unsure of then there is no one to talk to about it. My office manager has extremely limited coding knowledge and the billing/collection team is only really experienced in their respective fields. So I attend my local association meetings every month and talk to my fellow members about any issues and sometimes websites that I frequent. I like online forums but I'm aware that advice given is merely information that gives me a starting point for my own research. I belong to major industry associations and attend their monthly meetings as often as I can. I attend conferences/workshops when the price is right, as my employer seems to prefer it when I'm financially responsible for my own education. Cost is an issue and will only become more so when I have multiple certifications. I'll be looking for methods that offer the same CEU's for many associations so that my time can be conserved as well as my money.

What do you feel is your strongest attribute as an employee for your employer?
I am interested in doing my job well (for my own personal satisfaction) as well as making sure that every procedure that the doctor does is accounted for and billed for the highest amount that it can be.  I'm committed to learning about the latest news and how is relates to the orthopedic specialty. I'm lucky that the doctor pays me well and values my advice and the guidance that I can offer him. It's nice to be valued and appreciated and he gets my loyalty in return.

What would you like to do in the next in 5 years?
Professionally speaking I would like to complete some more certifications. I really enjoy challenging myself and learning more everyday. I am interested in learning more about hospital coding but time will tell on that one.

Any advice for someone new to the coding field?
Coding is not for everyone. Be focused and never stop learning. Try and get into a position where you are working with someone who is willing to share knowledge with you and work as a team.