5 Minutes with... Sandy Barber

BC Advantage (BCA): How and why did you get into this industry?
Sandy Barber (SB):
My career began in healthcare right out of high school and I must admit, [it was] by accident. I was in need of a job so I answered a newspaper ad for a hospital Medical Records file clerk and I was lucky enough to have been chosen for the job.  I am, to this day, very appreciative of the chance I was given to enter working in the healthcare field. I have loved working in the healthcare field since my first day on the job. It was this job where my foundation was built for a career in Health Information Management and where I learned everything from filing to coding medical records.

BCA: What do you consider to be the challenges of being a coding supervisor?
There are a couple of challenges I face as the coding supervisor. One of these challenges is insuring the timely coding of medical records. The coding of medical records has a direct impact on hospital reimbursement so it is imperative that each account be coded accurately and timely. If a medical record is incomplete or lacks necessary documentation it cannot be coded so the hospital is unable to seek timely reimbursement. My second challenge is educating and helping physicians understand the link between clinical documentation and coding.

BCA: Tell us about your position as the RAC Coordinator for your facility.
As the RAC Coordinator, I am responsible for all aspects of RAC activity. I am responsible for receiving the initial audit request letters, requesting the appropriate charts be pulled and copied, logging all activity in the Comply Track software system, mailing the records, receiving and logging Determination and Demand Letters, notifying both Patient Financial Services and Case Management when necessary, and last but not least, preparing and filing appeals.

BCA: Why did you choose the certifications that you have obtained?
I chose to obtain the RHIT, CCS, and CCDS credentials for two reasons. First and foremost, I wanted to insure I had the knowledge necessary to be a productive, efficient, and effective Health Information Management professional. Secondarily, I obtained my credentials because it was important to me that my current and future employers know that I have gained a certain level of proficiency in the areas that is or will be important to their organization.

BCA: What are the pros (and cons, if any) of holding a certification in your opinion?
The pros of holding a certification include the ability to illustrate that one has met a certain level of proficiency in the Health Information Management field. I also believe that more doors are opened and opportunities exist for those who hold credentials. I have noticed more hospitals requesting coding certification as a requirement for coding jobs.

BCA: With ICD-10 on the horizon, what are you doing to prepare your coders for the transition from ICD-9?
I am very lucky to work for an organization that is proactively working on a system wide ICD-10 education and implementation rollout plan. I am part of this very dedicated system team and am very confident we will tackle ICD-10 implementation effectively and efficiently. We will be preparing our coders through education beginning with A&P. We will utilize web based training modules to deliver ICD-10 education and then test for proficiency and understanding. I think preparation and education will help alleviate coder fear.

BCA: What words of advice would you give to other professionals and new industry members who aspire to supervisory positions?
I would advise other professionals who aspire to supervisory positions to stay informed and educated, mentor others, and learn to listen and communicate effectively.  New HIM professionals should strive to learn as much as they can from colleagues. I would also recommend taking on new challenges when possible to enable growth and confidence, and to communicate your goals to those who can help your reach them.