Medical Coder Jo-Anne is self employed and the owner of Lomar Associates, Inc., a medical practice management firm in Wilmington, MA. In addition to running her own business, she juggles an array of tasks on a daily basis that include medical coding, billing, teaching and consulting. And, she has been doing all this for 30+ years.
A conversation with Medical Coder Jo-Anne
Do you use paper manuals or online encoders? I use paper manuals as well as SuperCoder.com, apmacodingrc.org – The American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) coding website, and Find-A-Code.com. I am partial to Supercoder.com because it answers all of my questions under one umbrella. They are up-to-date, accurate, and user-friendly.
What are your thoughts about specialty credentialing? I believe a specialty credential will help you in your career. As an employer, I know if I was looking for someone with E/M experience for an auditing and consulting position, the credential would definitely be the determining factor. I know one woman who works for a large HMO in the Boston area and she was able to obtain a new job with a substantial increase in revenue because of her knowledge and credentials in Internal Medicine (CIMC) and E/M (CEMC).
Do you feel the AAPC is doing enough in the specialty fields by adding the auditing, compliance and practice management credentials? Yes. Training is rigorous and the exams are challenging. The healthcare industry is rapidly changing so training and credentialing in specialties, auditing, practice management, etc. truly reassures an employer that the person they have hired or will hire is someone who knows what they are doing. Just the fact that a person takes the time to prepare for an exam and passes an exam for a specific credential shows employers this person is motivated and keeps up to date with the industry.
Tell me about your experience with CodingCertification.org. I am a CPC as well as a PMCC Instructor, and most recently, a CPPM. I discovered CodingCertification.org (CCO) through the AAPC’s Instructor Forum. Other instructors were singing praises over the method in which Laureen Jandroep, owner of CCO taught medical coding so I decided to purchase her DVD Blitz set to see if her teaching style would help me become a better instructor. The day I reviewed her Blitz, I knew I would follow and support her from that point forward.
What do you like least/most about medical coding? I love the challenge of coding operative notes and showing physicians how to code ethically and maximize collections. I combine my billing and coding experience at all times and audit practices based on coding and billing regulations. I dislike insurance carriers making their own rules.
What advice do you have for people getting started in their medical coding careers? Be passionate. If you love what you do, you will excel. Be patient. You may have to start at a lower level to get your foot in the door. Stay up to date with changes, take seminars, attend AAPC chapter meetings, and share your knowledge. Employers need to know you are serious. Better yet, market yourself and obtain your own clients and build a portfolio. Back in 1981, I mailed out 300 direct letters to psychiatrists and offered medical billing services. One doctor, who owned a five-doctor group practice, took a chance on me. It CAN happen.
What are your future career goals? I would like to teach more and help providers transition over to ICD-10-CM.
What are your hobbies? I love to read, take walks and visit sidewalk cafes. I enjoy visiting the ocean and hanging out with my family. I also have a log cabin in Maine where I snowshoe and occasionally ski.
How does your personality help you in your job as a medical coder? My positive approach and enthusiasm is definitely contagious.
Tell us a fun fact about yourself. I love animals and will sneak food to the squirrels and chipmunks that live too close to my house; I feed the deer who live in my backyard despite the fact that we have to remove ticks from our dogs. I once had a ball python snake that I hid in my son’s closet for a week until I found the courage to tell my husband we adopted him. This is my short list; my husband is a saint!