Back to the Basics

By: Jessica

Hi Everyone! I hope you have had a great weekend, and enjoyed some much needed time with family and friends.  I had a great weekend kayaking with friends and family on the river! I am tired and sore, but well worth the laughter and workout.  So let’s talk about the medical professional documentation course.  There are 3 basic things being taught in this course.

  1. Medical Terminology
  2. Medical Coding
  3. Transcription

I will go over my experience in each of these categories…

Medical Terminology is a big one and I felt it was the hardest for me to get the hang of, but it is the most important one.  I say that it is the most important because it helps you to identify terms and body parts to help you in the coding process.  There is no way in the world that you can possibly memorize them all – so it is helpful to keep the flash cards handy.  Keep them in order or that will really mess you up.  I kept them on an O ring in order so I could just flip through them.  Laminating them is a good idea to so you do not rip them.  I use mine a lot.

Next up is Coding.  Oh coding…there are so many possible answers that it can seem overwhelming.  There are lots of rules on how to get your answer – I’m sure every doctor will teach you their preferred way to code.  But don’t get worried! Once you have the terminology and the coding process down, it all fits together like a puzzle and you will have that ahhha moment.  That moment is the best feeling in the world. In coding you have to think of it as looking up a word in a dictionary and finding the best possible solution to problem solving in math.  Yes I know that makes no sense but once you start coding it will make perfect sense.  Before I took this course I thought all the codes were just as simple as typing a letter in the system and letting the system do all the hard work for you.  Nope, I was wrong.  But that is ok because now I have the knowledge and understanding of how it all works.

Last but not least is Transcription.  To me, this is my favorite!  I have just started so that may change, ha-ha.  Just listening to some of these samples in the test book make me nervous because I know there are some doctors who speak quickly and are hard to understand that I might have a hard time typing the notes.  It’s not as easy as when the person is there and you can ask them to repeat something.  But these are just small trial of the profession and with more practice and knowledge it will get easier.  At least that is what I keep telling myself.

So I will end on that note and until next week keep going for your goals and enjoy your week.

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Bad Habits

By: Jessica

Good morning everyone! Hope you have had a great weekend.  I have had a great past two weekends and am just waiting for the bad weather to get up to Michigan. I have a horrible feeling that we are going to get a bunch of snow this year.  If you know anything about me you know I dislike snow with a passion.  But this week I would like to talk about our bad habits.  Everyone has them, and everyone tries to overcome them.  But there are the select few that do not care to overcome them.  That is perfectly fine as long as it does not hinder your well being right?

First we have to decipher what your bad habits are…so make a list.

Here is my list for example:

  1. Take on too much.
  2. Do not like to commit to long term like working out with someone every day.
  3. OCD about cleaning and everything being perfect.

Those are a few that I am currently working on.  So now that we have our list we need to make a plan on how to manage them.

  1. When I take on too much I have to use my planner and set up a specific time schedule for each activity that I have taken on so I can give attention to each one equally, as well as quality time to accomplish the project to my standards as well.
  2. I also get boxes or bins for each project so that I can keep all the materials in one place and not spend my time looking for all the materials needed. (Example all my school supplies for class are all in my backpack and each course is labeled and in a file in my File cabinet.  )
  3. I always have a backup plan for a person that I can trust with a project just in case I may need someone to lend a hand or for the most part give me advice. This person is usually my husband or my best friend.  They are also good for keeping me on track.

Now the next step is to make a plan or a way to stop doing these bad habits.

  1. Keep your planner in your cell phone as a reminder so when someone asks for you to take on a project you can physically see that there is no time or room to take on another project.
  2. Using that calendar to put reminders in so that you can commit to long term things with friends, which also keeps you healthy. Or in my case I workout better on my own without others watching me look goofy.
  3. With the OCD ways my husband will go behind me and switch things up when he knows I am super busy. Then I will notice it and giggle because I know it is his way of doing things to mess with me and put a smile on face, and letting me know it is possible to not have things perfect and still live my life.

So if you have a few bad habits you want to change try my advice this week and see how it works for you.  A little change may seem horrible but in the end it may be the best thing for you.  Have a great week and see you next week.

HOME

By: Jessica

Hi Everyone! I hope you have had a great weekend and week! I enjoyed our summer weather on the first day of fall here in Michigan.  It is normally in the low 50s here and over the weekend it was 97 degrees!!! I was soaking it all in, let me tell you.  So with that being said I would like to ask you a question.  How do you feel about working from home?  How about going to school from home?  I always said that if I could just stay home, I could get so much accomplished.  Well in that sense yes, if you stay home there are many things you can accomplish.   I never knew the flip side of that sentence though.  The more I stay home the more projects and things to do on my list get longer.  That is no joke!

When I first heard of At Home Professions I was ecstatic! That has always been my dream to work from home.  So I figured that this was a definite sign that I needed to go back to school so that I could earn the skills I needed to work from home.  So here I am going to school.  I figured that since I am going to be doing all my classes online that I could accomplish and complete the course in less than 6 months.  It has been done by several people.  But sadly, I am not one of them.  Going to school from home I believe is much harder and strict.  There are a lot more distractions and things that can interrupt you during your studying.  So I have said this before, you have to be very organized and strict.  Honestly no one will be harder on you than yourself.  It is too easy to fall into the “I’ll do it tomorrow” routine.  To be honest with you, that is why I am going to college in my 30s…because I said I would enroll in college at the end of summer.  Well here I am 16 years later.  I do not regret my decisions at all.  I am very happy to be doing this course.  I recently landed a work from home job also.  So I am crossing off things from my bucket list left and right.  I have to tell you though it is so hard to shut the door and leave work life and school life in the office.  So what helps with this is complete organization and vigor.  I have created a Home management binder where I plan my family meals for the month, the budget, and all of our schedules.  I have a sign on my office door that has my work hours and my school hours.  I have several alarms for school time and break time.  The alarms have helped me stay on task.  Once you start getting into a project it is easy to lose track of time.  With this being said I hope that you can use these tips and life lessons from me and apply them to at least your studying.  Have a great week and I will see you next week.

How to Create an At-Home Command Center

By: Jessica

Jessica 9-26Hello everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. This week is going to be a great week. Because, let me tell you, I am going to get you all squared away and have you using a whole new system to keep you on track. One of the biggest excuses for not going back to school or even finishing up school is that no one has the time. Do you know why most of us have no time or, at the most, very little time? Americans spend up to 60 minutes a day looking for things they have lost. Have you had this problem? I am constantly looking for my keys and my debit card. So, if this is you and you never have the time to accomplish things that you would like to in a day, I have some tips to get you organized and help you save an hour or more a day. My new solution to losing stuff and trying to remember what I need to be doing to stay on task is called a COMMAND CENTER. It is something that everyone can do.

Here’s the supplies you need:

  • A decent sized white board – at least the 8X10
  • Metal or wood file organizer
  • Folders with tabs, I recommend the plastic ones in case they get wet
  • Baskets big enough for paper to fit in
  • Small buckets or bins to fit scissors, pens, and tape in
  • A nice sized calendar
  • Small table or stand with space for baskets or some drawers.

You can get most of this in your home already, dollar stores or the dollar center at Target. I also get a school book organizer to keep track of my assignments and tests that need to be done, but you can keep track of that in your At-Home Professions online student account, too.

Calendar

Make sure to put all your appointments, activities, bills due, and other important dates on your calendar. I color code each one to each person in the family. I let my husband write all his stuff in first so I can plan around what he has going on.

Folders

I use these for specific coupons – for restaurants, specific stores, and one for groceries. Another folder holds invitations to parties, showers and any events that I may need the invitation for for directions or contacts. Another use would be for the papers that need to be signed and returned to school for kids.

Buckets and Baskets

I use these for pens, scissors, tape, staplers, and keys. I keep one basket for my purse with my sunglasses or mittens for the winter. I also have a basket for lunch boxes. Another basket holds office supplies and bill stuff.

I also have a charging station setup in my command center so when I first come in the door I put my phone on the charger so that I am not distracting myself with Facebook or other texts that can get me off task of the things I need to get done.

White Board

For quick notes to the family, and reminders for yourself.

This makes for a convincing center to accomplish a lot in a quick amount of time. A healthy balance for work, home, and school. Have a great week and get started on your command center!

Life is a Whirlwind

By: Jessica

Hi Everyone! Hope you have had a great weekend! I hope that all of you are safe and all your loved ones are safe from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. That is what I would like to talk about this week – how life never goes as planned. When we are young, we are taught to go to school, graduate, go to college, get a house, get married and have children. Now we all know that may happen to a few, but following a linear path through all those things is not the experience of the majority. Life literally gets in the way, or you have set backs. That does not mean that you cannot get back on track. There is no age limits to learning something new or getting back on your life’s path.

Jessica 9-18

With that being said, some of us studying with At-Home Professions may not be the typical college age. Usually we think of college students as around 20 to 25 years old. But a little known fact is that the typical college student is now in their mid 30s to mid 40s. Do you have an idea why? Well I, of course, am going to tell you. Many of the generation before me didn’t go to college right out of high school, they went right to work in the factories and learned a trade there. Or they went on to college later after learning the trade. So that is one factor. Another factor is that our economy is just now starting to get a boost. With that boost there is a high need for people with an education. It was difficult for many to get decent jobs from 2008 until now, so most of them decided to go back to school and work part time so that the bills could get paid. Then when the economy got better, like now, they would have that degree or certificate and be ready to take on a better job opportunity.

So when life gets in your way, you of course may have veer off the beaten path, but there is always a trail to lead you back onto the right path for you. I have always been a person to do things a lot differently than the others in my family. But I also have a lot more experiences and knowledge of things, too. Always follow your dreams and do things as they make sense to you. Tomorrow is always a new day, but again, it is never promised. So do something today that makes you feel good, or do something that you have always wanted to do but keep putting off for whatever reason. Until next week have a safe week and think of those less fortunate dealing with the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. Let me know how doing just one thing this week helped you handle life as it is a whirl wind. Thank you guys, have a great week, and be safe!

Study Spaces

By: Jessica

Hi Everyone! Hope you have had a great weekend. This week I’m talking about the spaces where you accomplish the most work. Is there a specific space in your home where you get the most work done? Or is there a space outside of your home where you can always accomplish more work than when you are at home? I think that, yes, when we are at our daily jobs, there is more work that is accomplished. I can accomplish more at home as long as I am home alone. I always have that feeling that I need to be considerate to those that are home and to be quiet to not interrupt them. Plus, I know for a fact my husband just likes to throw me off my game plan just to mess with me. I’ll get into a project or something I have needed to get done and he will always find that perfect time to ask me where something is or what’s for dinner. So, of course, I get side tracked.

Jessica 9-11

Are there family members that hover around you when you start to do your homework? I have a sister who likes to be in the room with anyone home. She does not like to be alone. She will literally sit in the room with me while I do homework and play on her phone or watch me like a hawk. The watching me drives me crazy because I know she is silently being a grammar police and or looking for any mistakes I have made. I also can’t do any homework in my bedroom. I swear if I even open my book in there I start to yawn. I accomplish nothing when I am in my room unless it’s watching a TV series or movie, and even then I am lucky to get through an entire movie without falling asleep.

So here are my tips for getting things accomplished:

  1. Plan a time when you can be home alone or have a quiet room to yourself.
  2. Make a list of what you would like to accomplish.
  3. Turn on some upbeat music if what you’re doing has to do with cleaning. If it has to do with homework I would recommend low volume elevator music. When I play music with lyrics that I know it is always harder for me to concentrate on what I am reading because I start to sing along with the music and have a tendency to dance. Yeah, not a great idea when you are trying to finish up your homework.
  4. Do not sit down if you are cleaning.
  5. Put your Facebook and other social media apps on silent. Those dang social media apps are very time consuming and addictive.
  6. Make sure there’s lots of sunlight and a table for homework. Also, I get a lot of homework done if I have a space that is tidy and clean. If not, I am going to spend some of my homework time cleaning.

So I hope you find your perfect space where you can accomplish all you have been wanting. I will see you next week!

Facebook Status 2018

By: Jessica

Good morning! I hope everyone has had a fantastic weekend – if you are in Texas, I am hoping that you are safe and getting any help you may need. This week I would like to chat about what you would like your Facebook status to be in 2018. Yes, I know I am getting ahead of myself with 2018, but it is right around the corner. I know I am going to finally be posting about completing my HDS course! But I would also like to add a new job for 2018. So, what will you like to have a status? What are you striving for while you are part of the At-Home Professions student body?

Jessica 9-5Whether you are just beginning a course or just finishing up, you have a lot to be proud of because you are setting goals and working to complete them. Look back on how you came to this spot in your life. I look back and see the stacks of books and lots of papers with notes and all my terminology, and cannot believe I have accomplished that much. It has been a struggle for me to balance home, work, and school life. Most people think that when you do online classes it is all easy breezy. Well, yes, in a way it is easy to just turn on your desktop, laptop, or even your cell phone and begin to do your homework. But what we do not think of is that you are home and you can think of a million and one things that need to be done besides your schoolwork.

Also, everyone has that one friend or family member who always says, “hey, you are home all day, could you do this for me?” So, you have to be very strict with your time and plans. I had no issues planning my study time, it was just hard for me to sit down and actually focus on schoolwork. There are times when I would be in the office moving right along on schoolwork and I would get a knock on the door or a phone call, and then it was three hours later before I got myself back to the homework. If you are easily distracted I suggest doing your homework at a library or just hide out somewhere with wi-fi!

So back to the topic of Facebook statuses, do you think that when you post a status about going back to school or having completed school it will rub off on others to create a new goal for themselves? Facebook is a great social tool. If you think about it, you see people go on a vacation and it looks awesome! So, in turn, you take a vacation similar to that or go to that same vacation spot, right? Before I close this blog post, I would like to say that I hope you have many positive Facebook statuses in 2018 and strive to keep learning new things. Be a positive influence in 2018! See you next week!

A New Chapter

By: Jessica

Hey everyone, I hope you had a great weekend! I know that here in Michigan summer is quickly coming to an end. With that being said, I am beginning the final course of the Healthcare Documentation Specialist program. My mind is dead set on a new chapter in my life with this new career. Have you ever just been so sick of your current situation and wanting a change so bad? But yet you have no idea where to begin? Well, let me help you out a little bit by recommending that you just begin! Literally, just start with one small change. Even if it’s not the way it should be or where you should start, once you get started it will all fall into place. Keep in mind your new venture should be something that you are excited and curious to learn about!

Now that I’m starting my final course, I am literally so ready to open new doors for a new career. I have taken my time in learning this course material, and believe me, this course is a challenge, but it also shows how much work and dedication those in the healthcare documentation field put in on a daily basis. Learn about the healthcare field as a beginner can be one big, confusing mess. With any new beginning everyone has fears and jitters. I am currently getting them and I have yet to finish.

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On my last test, I realized how much information I had already forgotten from the first few courses. Good thing I have filed each course with my notes and tests. I cannot stress that enough. Do not just toss all your completed work away thinking you are done. The medical field is constantly changing, so it is always nice to have notes and references to look back on.

What are you most looking forward to when you’re finished? What does your new chapter look like? Is there anything holding you back from achieving your goals? If you do have concerns or questions do not hesitate to reach out to student services or even fellow students. Everyone here is more than willing to help!

On my last test there were questions from the first course and I was drawing a blank and couldn’t think for the life of me! So I went back to my first course book and looked at the table of contents and found the section I needed. See? The perfect example of never giving up on searching for the correct answer. In a way, I feel like that is one of the many things this course has taught me. There is always an answer. It may not always be right in front of your face and you may have to do some digging and searching, but it’s there. Sometimes there is more than one answer which makes me super uneasy. Just like in life, there can be so many choices or paths to take. The good thing is, if the path you are on is not the one that you want than you can always choose another. Hope you have a fantastic week!!! Keep completing those goals!

How to Deal with Coding Frustration

By: Jessica

Hi everyone! I hope you had a fantastic weekend! Mine has been good, but not without some frustration. Everyone has some frustration when it comes to learning something new. It’s all about how you handle it and learn from it. So that’s what I will try and bring to the table today – some tips and tricks to getting the frustration out and manage it.

When it comes to medical coding, there are so many different factors to getting the correct code. So, if you are like me and like to just have one or two options, then coding will definitely frustrate you. Another factor is that not all the doctors who write the claims are the same; every single one of them has a different way to do it. There’s no one way to read them but there are ways around it. That is exactly what this course prepares you for, which is great.

Jessica 8-21

Here’s where I, specifically, got so frustrated. We learned the way to complete a claims form back in Course 2, but then as the courses went on we were focusing mainly on coding, but not with the claims form. So because I didn’t go back regularly and review my material, I literally had to relearn how to create a claim and learn all the different tabs in the Medlock program!

Tips to Avoid Frustration:

1. Stay calm – I know, it’s easier said than done, but it really does help.

2. Reread the chapter that you may need help in.

3. Make sure to check for the tutorial videos online.

4. Instant message or email your instructor.

5. Call the help line.

6. Make sure you read the entire medical report and highlight the important information you will need to find the correct code.

7. If you are still not finding the code then maybe you are looking for the wrong underlying issue. I will then go back and reread the medical report to see if there is another word to look up for the code. This has helped me so many times.

8. Make sure to check for modifiers and extra digits.

9. Read all the directions under the code, too. There are lots of good hints and directions to take you to the right code.

Don’t stress, you will get it down. It is not something that is learned in one night, unless you’re some type of special genius. I have talked to the medical billers in my actual doctors office and they said it is much easier to code for a doctor than learning to code for every type of doctor because most of the codes you will use consistently and daily! So have no fear, tackle it as best as you can, and learn from each wrong answer. Bring those questions to your instructors. Remember, they have been through this same course and there’s a chance they, too, once had the same question. Also, when you figure out your tricks and tips to make coding easier on yourself, write them down or highlight them so you have your very own reference sheet or cheat sheet. Have a great week and keep on going. The end is near!

My Study System

By: Jessica

Good morning everyone! I hope you have had an amazing weekend filled with fun and relaxation! Here is to another great week! This week is all about making your school life a little bit easier. I will also add in some things that will help outside of the school life into regular everyday life. So let’s get started!

I know that everyone organizes and learns differently. But here are some of the ways that I like to stay organized. In Course Four, there quite a few tables and what I like to call cheat sheets. I found that these are very helpful and I knew that I could use them in the future when it comes to Medical Billing. So I made copies and put cute borders around them and just made them my own. Then I put them in clear sheets with 3 hole punches in them and created a binder. I labeled the binder Helpful Tips. Here is a list of the tables that I have in the binder:

1. Number of Diagnosis and Management Options

2. Data to be Reviewed Table

3. Risk of Complications and/or Morbidity or Mortality.

4. Quick Reference Guide to E/M Coding

I also made a page for each. You can put them back to back if you need to save space but I just like to put tabs on the edges, so I can just flip right to each table. I get those post-it sticky tabs that you can write on. Some other things I have in my binder are the photos from the Anatomy and Physiology book, like the quadrants and specific body functions, the decision tree for new and established patients from the CPT book. That book also has great big photos of body functions. Yes, of course, you will have the books with you, but like I said before I like to just quickly flip to a tab. You could also use the sticky tabs in your books to help you flip to them quickly.

Weekend design.

Another thing I did was buy a plastic photo organizer. Mine came with 12 photo cases. They are the perfect size for small note cards. I labeled each note card with the course number, chapter number, and the page numbers. So now I have all my important notes that have helped with the passed test and quizzes. They all fit in one box. Now this may look silly carrying this into your new office, but I am 100% positive you will refer back to your notes at some point in your first few weeks. Also, in my binder I like to have a pencil case with the 3-hole-punch and a zipper so I can keep extra sticky tabs and a few pens and markers. Post-it notes are also handy so I can mark pages I find helpful to either take notes from or make copies to put in the binder if I don’t have the time at the moment. I hope this helps you in your studies. I encourage you to make it yours and find your unique system that works for you. Enjoy your week and keep going, you got this!