Establishing your practice is as important as anything you’ll do in medicine. It usually takes time, patience and attention to detail to make the smooth transition from training to your first job or from your first job to the next.
Establishing your practice is as important as anything you’ll do in medicine. It usually takes time, patience and attention to detail to make the smooth transition from training to your first job or from your first job to the next.

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Getting comfortable with coding

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The biggest thing you can do to help yourself administratively is to understand billing and be proficient at CPT coding.

Physicians understand that between seeing a patient and getting compensated, a Getting-comfortable-with-codingprocess occurs for collecting the payment. But they’re often not savvy about the particulars, especially their role in accurately documenting every medical procedure or service they perform in the office. Many new physicians come to their jobs from training unprepared for the intense requirements of coding accurately. Some are using electronic health or medical records for the first time.

Fortunately, organizations often have structures in place to train and monitor physicians over these and other important issues. At HealthTexas Provider Network (HTPN), for instance, doctors don’t have to invest in their own billing and electronic health records systems because the practice provides both. But they do undergo coding reviews every year to get feedback from professionals and directions on how to make changes. They also have access to physician mentors to help them sharpen their coding and billing skills as well as navigate the other challenges of setting up and growing a practice.

“I think it’s a real advantage if you can walk into an environment where the foundation is laid,” says Dorrie LeForce, director of operations for HTPN, “and the tools and technological support you need to be successful are in place.”

Luis Perez, D.O., got a taste of coding during residency when the organization switched from paper charts to an EMR system. He and his co-workers not only had to master the procedures they were performing on patients, but document them appropriately, too.

Although he’s still undergoing a bit of a learning curve at his new practice, he came to the job versed in the basics. “Any coding you can learn while you’re a resident prior to practice will be very beneficial,” he says. “There’s absolutely no question about it.”

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Christine Hinz

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