5 Minutes with... Jennifer P. Adams, CPC, CMC, CPMA, PCS, CFPC

1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started in the industry. 
I am mother of a daughter and son and MeMe to five beautiful grandchildren. My medical career began September 1, 1967 when I was hired by Dr. Wheeler Gunnels, Board Certified in Family Practice, who was a skilled surgeon, did OB/GYN, and orthopedics, as well as, Family Practice. Initially my duties were receptionist/secretary. After a few months I was offered the opportunity to file insurance. At that time there were no policies that paid for office visits other than Medicare and the patients filed their own claims with an attached receipt. There were policies that paid surgery on a fee schedule, injury claims, and so much per day of inpatient treatment. I might also mention that all of the insurance forms were different. I realized a need for me to become more educated so I enrolled in a local college at night. I completed courses in office administration, accounting, medical terminology, anatomy, pharmacology, and office management. I was privileged in April of 1975 to participate in BCBS pilot program of the first electronic filing of claims. This brought a passion and fire that I never knew existed in the work place. This was a challenge but was "fun". I knew from that moment that I wanted to be a "coder". In September of 1991 Dr. Gunnels retired and Dr. Steven Davis, also Board Certified in Family Practice, took over the practice and I have been employed in the same building for over 43 years. I learned in 1999 that there was an independent study with AAPC where you could study and then sit for the certification exam. I completed the study in three months and waited for about two months to sit for the exam. I was thrilled beyond measure to pass well on the first attempt. For the first time in my life I felt validated.

2.You've seen some amazing changes in the industry as a whole since you started, what do you feel are the biggest changes that you've experienced so far?
The ability to file electronically was the most amazing change and this process has changed dramatically over the years. From a small typewriter TI that you filled out claims on and flipped a switch for the computer to call in the night to very sophisticated medical program that you entered claims and then build a file, import, process, and send. The next amazing change came with the insurance HMO's, PMD, PPOs, etc that paid for office visits and brought about a need to file all encounters. This brought about a major need for "Coders". The filing of claims expanded from 35-40% to 96% of all services to be filed. This increased my job significantly. Talk about job security.

3. What would you say that you are most proud of in your career?
It would be hard to narrow it down to just one thing. First, I take great pride that my claims are filed on a daily basis for that date of service and that my percentage of correct claims is always above 98%. I believe in accountability and reconciliation. Secondly, I take pride in being able to help other physicians and facilities achieve this in their practice. Thirdly, I am so proud to inspire my students to take pride in their work, set goals for themselves, and GET CERTIFIED. I always tell my students that it is my fondest desire that hard work, accountability, certifications, and drive bring them the success I have enjoyed.

4. You hold several certifications from leading industry associations. How does that help you in your everyday role?
The certifications that I have obtained through AAPC, PMI, ACMCS, and NAMAS, just reinforce the knowledge that I have obtained and lend credibility to others that you do know what you are doing. The initials after your name tend to make people listen to you.

5. Any plans to add to your list of certifications?
Yes!!! I have for the past five years served as an independent auditor for many physician practices in my area and I will in all probability obtain more specialty certifications.

6. How did you become involved at teaching at a local school?
My first teaching experience came through Core Curriculum who contacted me because I was listed on the coding data base. I accepted the challenge and again felt a fire ignite. I taught about three years in a city about 65 miles from my home before I was contacted by LBWCC, MacArthur Campus to see if I would be interested in teaching there. They heard in the community that I was teaching. This was a dream come true for me and I have enjoyed teaching there for over four years. I love to teach and see my students enjoy their success in the medical field.

7. You manage to keep very busy (between working, auditing other practices, teaching, maintaining your certifications etc), how do you stay on top of it all?
Of course, credible resources such as BC Advantage, CMS website, local chapter meetings, conventions, work-shops, networking, and teaching is a great tool in staying on top of everything.

8. What do you do in your downtime?
I spend a lot of time with my family. My father and I go on outings to the beach, eat outs, and occasionally go shopping. My grandchildren and I have Fridays that we swim, play games, visit parks and a local lake where we walk on the nature trails. There are also MANY ballgames and recitals. I also am a member of Westview Baptist Church where I teach toddler class, participate in choir, and a member of the Praise Team.

9. If you could be doing anything in the world now, what would it be?
I would have to say that I am happy with my choice of careers but that I probably be content to retire from my physician office and continue to teach and travel to audit.

Jennifer P. Adams, CPC, CMC, CPMA, PCS, CFPC