Archive for July, 2015

Your Guide to AHIMA Certifications

Posted by Julia Foster on July 29, 2015 in Blog, General

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(Photo by Joonspoon used under CC/Desaturated from original)

Your Guide to AHIMA Certifications

Medical coders are essential to the operation of any healthcare entity.  Medical coders ensure that providers are properly reimbursed, data is tracked is accurately, patients receive the best care and much more.  There are many different certifications offered through the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) one can obtain as a medical coder.  To obtain the following certifications applicants must take the AHIMA mandated tests.


Registered Health Information Technician, RHIT:

One of the main duties of RHITs is to ensure patients’ medical records are accurate, timely, and complete. They ensure records are correctly entered into clinical data bases.  In most cases, RHITs specialize in coding procedures and diagnosing inpatient electronic health records (EHRs) for reimbursement and data tracking reasons.  RHITs also use their expertise to assist cancer registrars, which are organizations that collect and store data regarding cancer patients. To qualify to take the AHIMA RHIT test applicants must have a associates degree in health information management from a program accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information (CAHIIM); or have graduated from a HIM program that has been approved by AHIMA.


Registered Health Information Administrator, RHIA:

RHIAs are responsible for managing patient’s medical records and information.  They are also responsible for ensuring records are stored in a way that is compliant with medical laws and ethics.  They administer digital information systems.  RHIAs also use medical terminology and classification systems to collect and analyze patient data.  In many cases, RHIAs are put in a management position where they manage other staff members and operational units, while interacting with all levels within their organization. In order to qualify to take the AHIMA RHIA test applicants must have a bachelor’s degree from a program accredited by CAHIIM; or graduate from a HIM program that had been approved by AHIMA.


Certified Coding Specialist, CCS:

CCSs work in a hospital setting reviewing medical records and interpreting medical terminology into code form that is later used for reimbursement and data tracking. CCSs are experts in ICD-9-CM and CPT coding systems.  To obtain a CCS, candidates must be RHIT, RHIA or CCS-P certified; or have completed the proper training set by AHIMA; or have at least 2 years coding experience directly applying code; or be certified by a different organization and have at least 1 year coding experience directly applying code.


Certified Coding Specialist- Physician Based, CCS-P

Like CCSs, CCS-P review medical records and interpret medical terminology into code.  CCS-Ps code in a physician-based setting.  CCS-Ps have a deep understanding of CPT coding system and have experience with ICD-9-CM and HCPCS Level 2 coding systems.  To receive a CCS-P certification applicants must be RHIT, RHIA or CCS certified by AHIMA; or have complete a coding training program that meets all requirements set by AHIMA; or have at least 2 years coding experience directly applying codes; or have a CCA certification and a minimum of 1 year coding experience directly applying codes; or have a coding certification from another organization and at least 1 year coding experience directly applying codes.


Go-Lives and Go-Live Consultants

Posted by Julia Foster on July 23, 2015 in Blog, General
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(Photo by Mattbr used under CC/desaturated from orignal)

Go-Lives and Go-Live Consultants

Technology used in the healthcare industry is constantly advancing, making it important for hospitals and other healthcare entities to make sure they are working with the most updated systems their software providers offer.  When a hospital or other healthcare entity upgrades its current software or implements a new system it goes through a thorough process.  The process ends when the program is launched and made available to all staff and personnel, this is called a go-live.

The process of updating or implementing software

Once a hospital has decided to upgrade or implement a system the process begins.  The healthcare entity will start by planning a budget, creating a timeline, and building an IT team.  The IT team is responsible for building and testing the program.  Once the IT team has finished building the software and completed a thorough and successful test, the software will be launched throughout the hospital, beginning the go-live phase.


The go-live and go-live consultants

The go-live is the final and most important step in the upgrade or implementation process because this is when all levels of staff and personnel begin using the software on an every day basis.  It is imperative that staff members receive the proper training and support during the go-live.

This is where go-live consultants come into play.   Go-live consultants are experts in software upgrades and providing support.  These consultants are able to provide all levels of staff and personnel with support in troubleshooting, reinforcement of trainings, offer advice on performance improvement and provide continuing on the job support.  Having go-live consultants on site helps staff and personnel continue to provide patients with high quality care without worrying about questions and concerns about the new program.  Go-live consultants are available to staff and personnel 24/7 giving staff and personnel the ability to stay focused on the patient’s needs.  Go-live consultants also ensure timelines are met, the upgrade process continues seamlessly, and goals are achieved.


The advancement of healthcare information technology creates the need for hospitals and healthcare entities to stay up to date with software and programs.   This is why go-lives and go-live consultants are crucial to the development of technology in hospitals and the overall healthcare information technology industry.



Get To Know AHIMA

Posted by Julia Foster on July 23, 2015 in Blog, General

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Get to Know AHIMA

The American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA) is a worldwide, not for profit, association of health information management (HIM) professionals.   This organization plays a leading role in the HIM industry by offering medical coding certifications, training, education, an annual conference, and both student and career resources.  AHIMA is known to many as the leading supplier of HIM information.

AHIMA, which was founded in 1928 in an effort to better the quality of health records, currently strives to improve the application of electronic health records.  AHIMA works towards this goal by heading major HIM initiatives and advocating for high and consistent standards within the industry. They also support the advancement of medical coding by being 1 of the 4 parties in charge of the ICD-10 coding guidelines.

AHIMA offers all types of education ranging from certification exam prep to continuing education for seasoned medical coders.   The education AHIMA offers can come in the form of textbooks, in person classes and workshops, online webinars, and their online VLab (which according to is “an Internet-based, practical, participative, HIM and health information technology (HIT) work environment.”)  AHIMA also publishes e-newsletters, The Journal of AHIMA and the HIM Book of Knowledge (BoK) to keep industry professionals up to date.

Each year AHIMA hosts an annual conference.  The AHIMA national conference give attendees the opportunity to further their knowledge of HIM while networking with other HIM professionals and companies.  During the conference attendees are able to listen to key note speakers, participate in workshops addressing specific topics, meet with an assortment of vendors and much more.

Overall, AHIMA is one of the leaders of the HIM industry providing its over 101,000 members with information, education and resources.


ICD-10: What You Need To Know

Posted by Julia Foster on July 16, 2015 in Blog, General

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What is ICD-10?

International Classification of Disease (ICD)-10, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is “the international standard diagnostic classification for all general epidemiological, many health management purposes and clinical use.” ICD-10 is an updated edition of ICD codes that will replace the current ICD-9 codes being used in the United States.  ICD-10 will have additional codes that are more accurate and more detailed then the ICD-9 codes. ICD-10 will begin being used  on October 1, 2015.  It contains two types of codes ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS.  The ICD-10-CM codes are diagnosing codes and ICD-10-PCS codes are inpatient procedure codes


ICD-9 vs ICD-10

ICD-10 infographic


Why make the change?

Although this major update will take an extensive amount of training, ICD-10 offers many benefits that ICD-9 did not.  ICD-9 is over 30 years old and contains codes that are outdated and in some cases inconsistent with current medical practices.  ICD-10 offers nearly 123,000 additional and more detailed code sets that were not offered by ICD-9.  Access to a larger and more detailed database of codes will allow for more accurate epidemiological tracking.   This is because ICD-10 codes help identify disease etiology, anatomic site and severity, details that were not identified by ICD-9.   The implementations of the ICD-10 code will also improve the quality of data tracking to measure the quality and safety of care and process claims for reimbursement.   ICD-10 will enhance clinical, financial, and administrative performance.

Currently the United States is the only country using ICD-9, other countries have already made the switch, making it difficult to compare data from country to country.  Making the switch to ICD-10 will solve this problem and make it possible for the United States to compare health data with other countries.

It is also important to make the switch because ICD-10 coding will be mandatory.  According to, “An entity covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) must be able to successfully conduct health care transactions using ICD-10 diagnosis and procedure codes. ICD-9 diagnosis and procedure codes can no longer be used for services provided on or after the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) implementation date of Oct. 1, 2015.”   Any claims that do not contain ICD-10 diagnosis will not be processed.

The switch from ICD-9 to ICD-10 is an important change that will benefit the medical world in numerous ways.  Are you ready for October 1st?


5 Proactive Steps to Increase Your EHR Security

Posted by Julia Foster on July 13, 2015 in Blog, General

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 (Photo by NEC Corporation of America used under CC/Desaturated from original)

5 Proactive Steps That Will Increase Your EHR Security

EHRs are beneficial in many different ways.  EHRs improve patient care, involve patients with their own healthcare information and allow providers to use information more effectively; these are just a few of the many benefits.  With all these benefits, comes an increased risk of data breaches and security threats.  All entities covered under HIPPA are responsible to maintain the privacy and security of patient health information.  The best way to protect EHRs and your system is by taking a proactive approach to HIT security.   Here are 5 proactive steps you can take to help ensure your practice is protected against different security threats.


Protect yourself against viruses and malware

Needless to say, if your system gets a virus, the day-to-day work flow will be greatly interrupted, leading to decreased efficiency and possible unsatisfied patients.  The main elements to protect your system from viruses and malware are technical security, administrative security and environmental security.  To maintain a high level of technical security be sure to encrypt all data at rest, implement security passwords and conduct virus checks often.  To ensure administrative security be sure you have implemented a security policy and it is being enforced.  Installing alarms and screen protection hardware/software will assist in maintaining a high level of environmental security.


Guard against improper and unauthorized system use

Using unique usernames and passwords increases security against unauthorized use.  These usernames and passwords should be required each (and every) time an authorized user uses the system.  Be sure to keep a record of all usernames and passwords in an accessible, but protected file.


Don’t forget about smartphones and tablets

Mobile devices can be little more difficult to protect than desktop computers.  That is why proper security is important.  Be sure all mobile devices are encrypted.  Make sure the EMR software you are using has proper security settings for mobile devices.  Look for an EMR system that is customizable and fully integrated.


Increase your cyber security, both internal and external

The best way to do this is through process documentation, admin IT safeguards, configurable security settings (such as the ability to give different users different levels of access) and full analysis for weak points in your data system.


Invest in your staff

Require your staff to participate in trainings and information sessions regarding your internal security policy.  Build your practice’s culture around security.  Provide staff with situational trainings that happen often and engage attendees. Track responses to the training, whether they be positive or negative, and use that information to improve future trainings.  Provide staff with visual reminders and work place clues.  Give positive reinforcement for successful actions and proactive measures taken.


Taking a proactive approach can help avoid data breaches and increase your practice’s efficiency.  Following the proactive steps provided, your practice will become much less likely to be involved with a data breech.



Clinical Documentation Improvement Programs

Posted by Julia Foster on July 10, 2015 in Blog, General

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Clinical Documentation Improvement Programs

Accurate documentation is essential for every healthcare entity, but how is accuracy ensured?  This is done through clinical documentation improvement (CDI) programs.  CDI programs are programs, implemented in healthcare settings that improve the quality, conciseness, completion, timing and accuracy of clinical documentation.  Successful CDI programs ensure clinical documents contain an accurate representation of a patient’s clinical status.  The clinical documentations are then interpreted into coded data, which is then translated into quality report cards, reimbursements, public health data and data for disease tracking/trending.


What is the importance of CDI programs?

Clinical documentation is at the heart of every patient encounter, making the need for concise, complete, timely and quality documents essential.  Documentation must contain these qualities because documentation confirms the exact care that was given to a patient. Through the eyes of clinical documentation, ‘if it wasn’t documented it never happened.’  When documents have the necessary qualities, it ensures healthcare agencies are properly being reimbursed, tracking data, and providing quality patient care.  Proper reimbursement is one of the most important reasons clinical documents need to be as accurate as possible.  If something is documented incorrectly there is a possibility that the healthcare agency will not be fully reimbursed, resulting in the healthcare agency losing money.  CDI programs also assist healthcare agencies in increasing their Case Mix Index (CMI) which as a result, generates higher revenue.


What makes CDI programs work?

CDI programs rely heavily on Clinical Documentation Specialists (CDS).  According to, “A CDS is a registered nurse who manages, assesses, and reviews a patient’s medical records to ensure that all the information documented reflects the patient’s severity of illness, clinical treatment, and the accuracy of documentation.” A CDS needs to understand the clinical needs of patients, in order to give the proper feedback that fills in the gap.  In most cases, physicians and other healthcare providers are not trained on proper documentation during medical school and residencies, this is the same with nurse practitioners and physicians assistants during graduate school and clinical rotations.  This makes the CDS’ role of performing concurrent reviews of medical records, validating medical codes and querying health care providers for more details about the clinical document extremely important.

To sum it all up, CDI programs rely on their CDS staff to ensure all clinical documents are concise, complete, timely, accurate and of high quality.  Without these accurate reports hospitals could lose revenue, have inaccurate data, and decrease the quality of patient care.


July’s Monthly Software Spotlight: Epic

Posted by Julia Foster on July 8, 2015 in Blog, General

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Let’s Talk About Epic

Epic is the leader in the electronic health records (EHR) industry.  This privately held healthcare software company creates software for both mid-sized and large medical groups.  The software is created in-house and shares a single patient-centric database.  Their applications support many different aspects of the medical world including, functions linked with registration and scheduling; Clinical systems for doctors, nurses, and emergency medical personnel; Billing systems to insurers and systems for lab technologies. Basically, if it is in the medical world Epic has an APP for that.

Epic serves about 300 customers including, The Cleveland Clinic, CVS MinuteClinic,  Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore, UCLA Health in Los Angeles, Texas Health Resources and Duke University Health System.  Although, Epic Software has been criticized for being expensive the majority of users are extremely satisfied with the software. Not only do users recognize Epic for being exceptional, the software has received many awards.  Some of these awards include, the silver award for ‘Excellence in the production of learning content – private sector’ from QVC, the 2014 Best in KLAS award and the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Overall Software Suite award.


6 impressive things to know about Epic:

  1. As of January 2015, hospitals that use Epic Software hold the medical records of 54% of patients in the U.S.


  1. In 1979, Epic was launched under the name Human Services Computing Inc. Human Services Computing Inc. was launched by Judith Faulkner and several other partners.  Faulkner is responsible for coding the original software used by Epic and still serves as the company’s CEO.


  1. 69% of Stage 7 U.S. hospitals and 83% of Stage 7 clinics use EpicCare.


  1. The headquarters for Epic is based on a 950 acre campus. This campus is designed to promote creativity and includes a rock wall, farm, useable tree house, replica of grand central station and many themed training rooms.  Over 7,000 employees work on Epic’s fascinating campus.


  1. Epic is both privately owned and employee owned.


  1. CEO Judy Faulkner has committed to donate 99% of her assets as part of the Giving Pledge.



Welcome (Back) to Our Blog

Posted by Julia Foster on July 6, 2015 in Blog, General, News

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Who are we?
We are Excite Health Partners! We are a healthcare consulting firm specializing in health information management and healthcare information technology. Our team works to supply our clients with the best health information and healthcare information technology consultants available, while offering health information management and healthcare information technology professionals exclusive and fulfilling career opportunities.

Our Blog
Through our blog we will discuss what we are passionate about, the innovative and developing industries of health information management and healthcare information technology. Our blog is here to inform readers, whether they are a health information management or healthcare information technology newbie or experienced veteran, about the many different elements and topics that come along with the health information management and healthcare information technology industries. We also want to discuss our views on current topics related to the healthcare fields. We promote interaction on our blog so feel free to leave any comments, questions, tips or whatever comes to mind. If there is ever a topic you want to learn more about or get our take on just let us know and we will be sure to blog about it!

Get to know us
Now you know why we are blogging let us tell you a little about our company. Excite Health Partners was created in 2010 by our founding partners, Stephen Putt and Julien Mitchell. The company is broken down into the healthcare information technology team, the health information management team, and the corporate division. The healthcare information technology team consists of Professional Recruiters, Recruiter Managers and Account Executives. The health information management team has the same make up as the HIT team, but also includes a Director of Coding Services and Coding Auditor. Our corporate division is composed of our billing and payroll, human resources and marketing teams. All our teams work together to come up with innovative ways to provide clients with the best talent while providing our healthcare information technology and health information management professionals with the best career opportunities.
We look forward to sharing all types of healthcare information technology and health information management insights and giving our view on different issues!