Top Tips from Sandy Routhier, HIM Expert, for Hospital Auditors to Successfully Work from Home During Challenging Times
Working from home can be a big transition. The coding and auditing worlds have primarily been a remote workforce for several years – the tipping point was when medical records became 100% electronic. Still, there are some employees who will be working from home for the first time. Even those who have been working at home for years have been faced with new virtual challenges over the last few weeks, such as school and daycare closures. Here at Revint, we have always operated in a mostly virtual fashion. From communication to technology, we share our top tips for hospital auditors and coding professionals to successfully work from home.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
One of the challenges employees may run into in a virtual setting is the inability to quickly and easily bounce a question off a coworker. Most employees have a go-to person they ask when they need a question answered – it’s that someone they feel comfortable “yelling over the cubicle” to. We all encounter those coding scenarios that require a second set of eyes and a head nod to confirm. This can be effectively done in the remote work environment using communication tools such as Microsoft Teams. For more challenging coding scenarios, it’s best to have a formal process in place to escalate those questions to your internal education or nosology team for formal review and response.
Ensure that your communications are clear and meaningful, and remember, even though you are not in the same room, you are still a team. Keep in contact with your team members – send them an instant message or a quick email to check in and provide support. To make up for missing hallway talk to connecting in the breakroom, consider a virtual “water cooler” where employees can connect to share personal news and happenings.
Know Your IT Support Team and Resources
Employees need to consider the technical problems that could arise from shifting to a virtual workspace. Planning for errors that can occur and having the appropriate contact information for your IT team can help reduce downtime. Good internet speed is important. A wired network connection is best. Know your company’s security policies and procedures and comply with them. If you’ve never used the webcam on your computer when in virtual meetings, now would be a good time to start. It makes for more engaging meetings and may help to increase the feeling of being connected.
Also, when deciding what additional programs you will need to access while working remotely, consider all scenarios. Making sure you have access to every system you will need information from remotely will make accomplishing your job more efficient.
Minimize Your Disruptions
Shifting to a virtual workplace can be tough when you are used to going into an office every day. Auditing and coding require focus, but sometimes it can be tough when you are in a new virtual workplace or dealing with new challenges such as school and daycare closures. Schedules may need to be adjusted to allow for uninterrupted time. Give yourself a set schedule and stick with it as much as possible. Avoid too many stops and starts as much as possible. Set expectations with family and friends that even though you are working remote, you are still working. Limit nonessential distractions in your workspace such as cell phone and email notifications. Set an alarm for any commitments such as required meeting times so that you don’t work through them.
Keep a Work/Life Balance
Although challenging, it’s very important to keep a work/life balance when working from home. Sometimes it’s difficult for remote employees to unplug at the end of the day. Just because your work and office are available 24/7 doesn’t mean you should be burning yourself out. Balance is important, and just like setting a morning ritual can be helpful to get your mind focused for work, an evening ritual can be equally as effective to close out your day and ensure your work/life balance remains intact. Take time during lunch and break periods to check-in with family and friends as needed.
About Sandy Routhier, RHIA, CCS, CDIP
Sandy is the Senior Vice President of DRG Validation (DRG-V) Auditing Services at Revint. DRG-V provides a unique full-coverage software and auditing solution to assure the accuracy of coding and documentation on inpatient cases. Sandy plays a key role in the development and maintenance of the rules engine and auditing process for DRG-V. Sandy is an HIM & Coding professional with more than 30 years of experience with a strong emphasis on inpatient coding and reimbursement, medical record documentation requirements, HIM operations, electronic records, regulatory and accreditation requirements. Sandy worked in acute care hospitals for 25 years in a variety of roles including inpatient coding and CDI specialist, HIM director, revenue cycle director and information systems director.
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