Back to HIM
Ironically, one of my clients with the loan signing business was
the director of revenue cycle for St. Mary’s Hospital in Reno, NV
and a Loma Linda University graduate. That connection led to
a full-time project: assessing the HIM department. When the
HIM director eventually left, I was offered the position. With
mixed feelings about returning to HIM management, I saw a
plaque in the St. Mary’s gift shop, which still hangs on my wall. It
read: “Sometimes Right Back Where You Started From, Is Where
I immediately took the director position, where I remained for
almost three years. During my tenure, I achieved several signifi-
Decreased outstanding coding from $18 million to $3 million
When St. Mary’s was sold to a for-profit company, I decided to
resign. And then I saw the blind ad for a vice president of business services at REMSA.
From HIM to EMS: Ambulance Services Need HIM Skills
My ability to improve the employee survey results and my varied business experience were the biggest reasons REMSA was
interested in hiring me for the position, according to the REMSA
officials that hired me.
I have now been in this position for five years. I went from not
knowing anyone in the field to being asked to speak at a user
group meeting this year for one of our technology partners. I’ve
learned about various types of revenue cycle software systems
from major industry leading companies. While it took two years
to master the job, the similarities to HIM are uncanny. For example, it demands organization and understanding categories—essentially the same principles as HIM, with tweaks. It was
just one more system to understand.
Billing is basically like a conveyor belt. The bill is created and
stays on a schedule, ultimately falling off at the end.
I now have much more balance in my life. My office is five
minutes from home. I am community oriented and live my life
at a slower pace. I plan to retire in the next two to three years.
Earlier this year I spent a weekend with my college friends
from the Loma Linda HIM program. This is the 34th year we’ve
gotten together for a weekend of margaritas and camaraderie.
HIM friendships are a long-term career asset, no matter where
the journey takes you. ¢
Chris Thorne Watanabe ( email@example.com) is vice president of
business services and HIPAA officer at the Regional Emergency Medical
Services Authority, based in Reno, NV.
Recommendations for HIM Professionals Interested in Pursuing Nontraditional Careers
Don’t close the door on your HIM skills. Use those skills in a different way. It’s just one more system to understand.
You never know what your next opportunity may be—or how it will show up.
Get out of your comfort zone. Pursue a knowledge base outside of HIM.
Keep your feet in today and your eye on tomorrow.
Where you need to take your department, also take yourself.
Look to other HIM professionals to open the door to opportunities.
Have people in your life who can answer questions about things you don’t know.
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