5 Minutes with... Ione Monzelun Broussard CMC, CMIS, CMOM

BC Advantage (BCA): Tell us about your background and how you got started in the industry.
Ione Monzelun Broussard (IMB):
I was born and raised in southwestern Louisiana, also known as Cajun Country. I am one of 10 children with six of us are in healthcare. My oldest brother has been practicing medicine for 34 years. I started in his office at the age of 15. It seems I have been around the healthcare arena all my life. I was co-owner of a medical-surgical supply company, worked for a national company in disposable goods and joined the Sisters of Charity converting independent physician offices to MSO status.
More recently, I've worked as an independent contractor for several years and perform practice assessments to assist physicians with the business side of a medical practice. My education was self-taught, a learn-by-doing approach.  I feel this experience and knowledge base has prepared me to help other administrators weave through the maze of the healthcare industry today.

BCA: You've been an instructor with Practice Management Institute (PMI) for the last nine years - what is it that you like most about this role?
I'm fortunate to have many opportunities to work in so many facets of a physician base office.  I try to relate to the problems the attendee's bring to our PMI seminars and together we work out solutions and alternatives to improve their work performance.  When I present a topic, there is always that common thread of "I can relate to that because that is happening in my office." Our PMI instructors come from all areas of the healthcare industry and that makes us a unique educational institution because we can draw from personal experience and expertise in our particular fields to help our students find solutions.

BCA: Any particular subjects that you prefer to teach?
Believe it or not, I enjoy personnel management. It's not dealing with all the different personalities in so much as working together as a team. Without a good team, it's a constant struggle to perform the smallest task without frustration, which in turn, we project onto our coworkers and the patient. It causes burn out in the managers, morale drops, and the patient is the one who suffers most. The patient is the most important person in your clinic.  As a team, we should strive to make every visit a successful visit, and that entails the front office (clerical) working with the back office (clinical) in coordination with the insurance and billing office. Each visit by the patient is like a dance. Each "desk" has its own function but it must be in step with every other "desk" in order to keep the rhythm to end the day on a good note.

BCA: Your position requires you to travel many weeks of the year, what are the "ups" of traveling so much?
I have been on the road with PMI for the last 9 years, and have landed in every state but two. I haven't made it to North or South Dakota.  Traveling approximately 40 to 45 weeks a year has made me realize that there's a whole lot of country out there, but, at the same time, it's a very small world. I enjoy all the different flavors of each state. When people hear I am from Louisiana, conversations usually turn to food, music, and hurricanes. I love to learn about each state, its climate and different culture. Every state is unique, but Louisiana is still home.

BCA: Any downsides?
Yes, before I had Mr. Yahoo, getting directions was the biggest challenge. When you live and work all your life in one area, you tend to forget the name of roads but always know a landmark.  For instance, I usually get to turn 'that way, by the McDonald's', as their hand goes either right or left. Sometimes I get to go straight but they forget to say the road comes to a fork and there I am left sitting in the middle, flipping a coin to take the left or the right.

I remember working in Delaware. Keep in mind that this state is 63 miles long. I needed directions to the hospital where our seminar was being held. According to the hotel desk clerk, I was to get back on the Interstate, going "that way", and then I was to take a certain exit. Well, the interstate was under construction and as a result there were no signs for that exit. I obviously passed the exit and the next exit was 13 miles down the road. When I took that exit, you couldn't get back on the interstate. I was in the middle of the country when I found a UPS driver. I told him there was $50 waiting for him if he could lead me to the hospital. Being the kind person he was, he did in fact lead me to the hospital and he wouldn't take my money. I think he saw the panic in my eyes. It was the first and last time I was late for class (only by 15 minutes!). Delaware has a saying: "You can miss it". Let me tell you, you can and I did!

My suitcase is rarely totally unpacked and stored in the closet.  It's also hard to be home more than three days in a row. I feel like I should be packed ready to go somewhere but instead I get to chose between dusting, mopping floors, or doing yard work. I usually pick the yard over the inside of the house.

BCA: As a licensed private investigator specializing in healthcare fraud and abuse, you are able to provide a different perspective to the classroom. What advantages do you think that your students receive when having you as an instructor on this or related topics?
As a new PI, I had to choose between prosecuting or helping bring physicians into compliance. I chose to help practices meet compliance. We really didn't have seminars or workshops to educate us 'back in the day' on how to fine tune a practice on subjects such as documentation guidelines, HR issues, or OSHA.  With all the new changes in healthcare today like HIPAA and OIG, it's rewarding and fulfilling to be able to educate others in these areas. It's important to protect the physician license and I can do this best through education coupled with in-house implementation.

BCA: What personal and professional attributes do you think a successful instructor needs to possess?
A successful instructor would, in my opinion, need background in a working practice, knowledge of the laws, rules, and regulations and the ability to think on their feet. Delivering a subject takes communication skills. It's not only what you say but also how you say it that holds the audience's attention. You have to love people and want to serve the industry by educating the professionals that have that one-on-one relationship with patients.

BCA: Any advice that you want to pass on to someone who would like to become an instructor?
People will comment on how glamorous it must be to travel and teach. You have to want that, because I haven't seen the glamour yet. There are times when I won't get to a city until 1 or 2 in the morning because of a delayed flight. Then I have to check into a hotel that doesn't live up to their advertisement, fight the weather and traffic to arrive at my seminar and face an audience that is fed up with shrinking dollars in their practices, and they let me know in no uncertain terms. At the end of your day you head to the airport and do it all over again. It is grueling but I love it. There is nothing better than, at the end of the day, knowing you made a difference in someone's life with just that little pearl of wisdom.

Ione Monzelun Broussard CMC, CMIS, CMOM
Practice Management Institute (PMI)

See Ione speak at the 2008 Practice Management Institute Conference for Medical Office Professionals
The 2008 Practice Management Institute Conference for Medical Office Professionals 
May 07, 2008 - May 09, 2008 San Antonio, Texas
BC Advantage Member Rate: Only $835 (regular $855)
Annual conference for medical office professionals providing advanced training in coding, reimbursement, and office management. Held at the San Antonio Convention Center, participants will hear from 18 presenters, 3 learning tracks, 30 sessions, plus 2 optional pre-conference tracks. Attendees will receive a "toolkit for success" comprised of forms and templates for use and reference in their practice.