Translate HIMSS17 Tips Into Career Advice for 2017

health information technology

This past week, two of our newsletter editors from The Coding Institute attended health IT conference HIMSS17 and Tweeted highlights from sessions. One point that came through loud and clear is that no matter what job you have in healthcare, data connections are so intertwined you have to expand your thinking beyond your own department.

Here are a few pointers from the conference that you can apply in your day-to-day work and as you think about advancing your career. To see Tweets from the conference, check out @supercodergirl on Twitter.

1. Do Your Part — The Human Element Matters

The reliability of any tech depends on the input of people.

For instance, human understanding may affect data being entered, such as assumptions about whether hysterectomy means all or part of the uterus, advised SNOMED International’s David Markwell.

People make the decisions about what tech to buy and how to use it, too. That was my thought about the comment by Kurt Long from FairWarning that functionality often wins over security.

If you find yourself getting distracted while you work or fatigued during a decision process, stop and regroup so a momentary lapse doesn’t result in a mistake.

2. Make Your Voice Heard

While discussing Bundled Payment Care Improvement (BPCI), a component of the value-based payment programs, Lahey Clinic’s Cathy Ball stated that in her experience the people at CMS want to hear your thoughts.

The lesson here is that if you’re frustrated by a health IT compliance proposal or a workflow hang-up caused by a particular tech product, sending your constructive criticism directly to the agency or company involved will likely be appreciated and may lead to change.

(That goes for us here at SuperCoder, too. We love to get feedback about enhancements or additions you’d like to see to help you do your job.)

3. But Not Too Heard

Social media can be a great way to reach and communicate with patients and companies, but, in a session on managing social media risk, Kevin Campbell, MD, offered some food for thought.

First, Campbell mentioned the issue of identity. It boils down to this: Does an employee’s personal post reflect back on the employer? There are all sorts of legal and social complexities surrounding that, but it’s an issue to keep in mind.

Second is some good old common sense: If it’s not something you want your mother to see, then you probably shouldn’t post it.

4. Watch for Trends Affecting You

Changes in the technology available to treat patients trickle down to the business side of healthcare, too.

For instance, in a presentation on new care models, Amy Mechley, MD, discussed the growing field of telehealth services.

CPT® 2017  included many changes to telehealth coding that you should consider reviewing to educate yourself.

5. Train for Good Documentation Habits

Having documentation that supports code choice is important. But having that documentation in the right place is crucial, too.

For instance, with an EHR, a doctor may put exam documentation in the notes field. But to really take advantage of what health IT can do, that documentation may need to be in a discrete field for easier capture.

Make sure EHR training for your practice is thorough and offers support during the learning phase so that good habits get in place from the start (preventing future frustrations).

6. Don’t Change for the Sake of Change

One of my favorite comments came from Ascom CEO Holger Cordes: Pagers are still around, and, for some specific purposes, they’re not a bad answer.

This comment made me think that while there have been a lot of technological advances that really can make our jobs easier and our data more secure, upgrading without putting in some thought isn’t the best approach. If something new and pretty won’t work as well as something you already have, stick with what works. Lower costs and less regret!

7. Pair Up With IT

Bust out your research skills to get to know tech lingo, and work with IT staff to ensure your team has proper training. Everyone may not need an in-depth understanding of crypto-agility, but social engineering and shadow IT in the cloud are concepts each team member should know and know how to handle.

And this isn’t a one-time thing. New channels, even in social media, can bring new risks requiring training updates.

8. Stay Focused on Patient Care

With all the technical aspects to learn and compliance requirements to meet, we all risk getting bogged down in the details of health IT and forgetting that the end goal is better patient care.

ONC’s Lisa-Nicole Sarnowski made the argument that it really does benefit everyone to have access to the right info at the right time.

Consider the story told by an audience member about a lung cancer patient who had to physically carry her health information and images from specialist to specialist because there was no system in place for the doctors to share that information.

When you’re making decisions about what tech to buy or even just need a little motivation to make it through your next task, keep those patients in your mind.

How About You?

How do you view health IT? Do you make an effort to keep your tech skills up-to-date to help with your career goals?


Deborah works on a wide range of TCI SuperCoder projects, researching and writing about coding, as well as assisting with data updates and tool development for our online coding solutions. Since joining TCI in 2004, she’s covered the ins and outs of coding for radiology, cardiology, oncology and hematology, orthopedics, audiology, and more.

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