5 Minutes with... Patricia Lynne Bates

BC Advantage (BCA): How and when did you start your career in the industry?
Patricia Lynne Bates (PLB):
I got my start in HIM back in 1999. I started at the very bottom filing loose filing at a 32-doctor physicians practice in Nashville, TN working part-time over Christmas break from college. I was going to school to be Wildlife Biologist.

BCA: What is your background experience and current position?
I continued to work over my breaks from college in HIM and then I moved to Knoxville, TN and worked fulltime in various doctor's offices. I landed a fulltime position at an acute psychiatric hospital working for seven years starting as a Medical Records Tech and then moving to a HIM Specialist. I was also the Superuser (Subject Matter Expert) of the department. I trained all new doctors and midlevel staff on the both electronic medical records systems that the hospital used. I had this responsibility along with my HIM duties, which included, prepping, scanning and indexing, analysis, reanalysis, faxing, copying and mailing medical records, merging and sending out the delinquent letters. I found out that I was good at training on electronic records and I wanted to expand on the training aspect of the job and I knew it was the new and growing area of HIM. I started looking for a new job closer to my parents because I missed my family. It took a year and a half of searching before I landed my current position as a HSC trainer. It has been a wild ride since February 6, 2012. My first day on the job was in Utah at the Mountain Division HIM Directors leadership training. I was brought on for the finally migration of HPF installation.

BCA: What areas do you see HIM professionals needing training in for 2013 and why?
The main area I see HIM professionals needing training in for 2013 is technology. HIPAA 5010 and ICD-10 are two of the new standards that are qualifiers for Meaningful use and this requires learning new technology. It is an exciting and stressful time in the HIM world.

BCA: As a trainer, what are some of the questions that pop up the most?
The main questions I get are "How does this relate to my job?" and "Is there a way I can do this training on my own?" 

BCA: Why did you choose to become a HIM specialist as opposed to a coder or biller?
This is a hard question to answer. I liked working in medical records and when my hospital switched over to electronic records my job title got changed to HIM Specialist. I like coding and I know how to code and the same goes to billing, but I never pursued it.

BCA: What common issues arise when you are managing the inpatient coders and insurance billers to insure that the medical records are accurate and bills are filed timely?
The hardest part was getting everyone on the same page. I did not manage anyone, however, I just made sure that they had all the information they need to get the bill out timely.

BCA: You analyzed and reanalyzed electronic records for completion and errors in the EMR. What issues do you commonly find and how do you overcome this?
The most common issues I found were documentation issues and dictated documents not being dictated in a timely fashion. I would keep a list of the issues and if they are made over and over again, I would contact my supervisor and the nursing managers.

BCA: Do you prefer training new HIM staff or working hands on?
I like both, but I love training.

BCA: If someone had an interest in getting into HIM training, what advice would you give him or her?
My advice is that they need to become a subject manner expert. They need to know the subject inside and out and be able to teach it so that other people can understand how to do the job.

BCA: As someone who trains new doctors, nurse practitioners, physician assistants and new employees on the various electronic medical record systems (EMRs), do you find that you need to use different techniques for each position?
Yes, you have to because everyone is different and learning styles are different.

BCA: Have you started your ICD-10 training? If so, what have you done and do you feel you will be ready for the 2014 implementation date?
I have only taken one ICD-10 training class. It was back 2005 and it was just an introduction. I know that I will be ready because I have to be.

BCA: Do you have any last words for anyone just getting into this industry?
It is a hard industry to get into. You just need to get all the education, experience and credentials you can and be ready to work hard even to get a job, but it is a very rewarding career.