Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Take a Stand!

At some point in every professional career everyone is forced to stand up and defend a decision that they have made. For me, one of those moments happened today. Without going into huge detail, a document was submitted without a vital piece of information that would have made it possible for me to pass that document through our system with a pay status. Instead the information was never submitted and once the service has been rendered it can't be. So I denied the document for payment and sent it on. When our audit department got it, they sent it back to me marked incorrect, even though to me it was still correct.

I'll stop there, because this is where the lesson really picks up at. In a situation like this you'll have almost no choice but to ask the person why they decided that you were incorrect. Be civil and polite but let the person know why you feel like you are correct. Don't ever tell them they're wrong - that will just put the person on the defensive and make them less willing to see things from your point of view. A good example would be:


I see where this document was marked incorrectly, but I'm not sure why. I thought that according to document1 it should have been processed by procedure1. Can you help me see where I'm misunderstanding this?

Thank you,


This makes them feel like you are looking for clarification on your own misunderstanding, which in some cases you may be. Of course it may be because you don't understand why they think something should be done that way, but we don't have to tell them that!

The most important thing in standing up for yourself at the office is to do it politely. You don't want to come across as aggressive and hostile - remember, you may be right, but they write your paycheck. Be nice, but be firm. I say this because there will be times when you may have to "escalate", going above that person's head to either your supervisor. Again - be civil and polite. Forward the email conversation you had with that person to the next level with your question and your explanation of why you did it the way you did OR the way it either doesn't make sense, or you feel that it could be done better.

Either way you are going to get a resolution. If you are indeed wrong, say thank you for the clarification and accept your error gracefully. Don't pout, don't whine, don't stomp out of the office or make a snarky remark. None of these things will make you look pretty or like an employee who needs to be kept around. If you smile and say thank you, print the resolution and hang it in your cubicle, and learn from your mistake you will look engaged and open to improvement which is exactly what your employer will want to see from you.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

I owe how much?

Debt. It's a four letter word. It's soooo easy to get into and sooooo hard to get out of! However, with a little focus and understanding it'll be something you can tackle with no problem. No, really - you can do this, I promise!

First things first - check your credit report! Once a year every smart boy and girl should log on to and give your credit a check-up. Look at everything - literally. All of your addresses that are listed, anything they say you own, any public records, negative items, and (most importantly) collection accounts - which they call potentially negative items. What I like to do is print screen (ctrl + print screen) those puppies and save them into my documents folder on my laptop. I give them a name consisting of the amount of debt on that report and the collection agency that I owe it to i.e. - "308.00 CMI Collections". I leave it there until I'm ready to pay it. Once it's paid I usually go buy a pair of shoes and a fro-yo and add on PAID in big capital letters at the end of the name. I love to look at that folder and see that beautiful list of PAID going down the side of my screen.

But before we get to the PAID stamp and the shoes and the fro-yo we have to acknowledge that that debt is there and it is our fault. I think I just heard your face fall. It's okay! Seriously - it really is okay. Yes, you messed up. You defaulted on a credit card or loan. You over drafted a bank account. You couldn't pay a hospital bill. Right now take responsibility for it. Say, out loud, "I created this debt but I will pay it off." Repeat it a few times, if you have to. Remember - here we're all about being "selfish" and knowing our self worth.

Now that you're armed with your credit report and all your individual debt pages and you have acknowledged that those debts are your responsibility, you've taken a giant step in becoming debt free. In the next few weeks we'll talk about ways to pay your debt off, which debts you should pay off first, and why you need to leave that credit card account open. And as always if you need any advice, please feel free to email me!

Balanced Life Program Week 2

Today I'm going to reveal Step 2 in the Balanced Life Program, but first I want to congratulate anyone who kept up with Step 1. I'm sure you're seeing the results by now - maybe a little less bloating in your face and stomach, healthier looking skin and hair, feeling less hungry and less tired. Feels good, doesn't it?

So - without further ado . . . Step 2: Take a multivitamin everyday. My favorite is the One a Day line. I currently take the Women's formula, but there is a formula for everyone, even kids! Vitamins are the building blocks of our bodies and part of the fuel that runs us each day. Making sure you're getting the proper amount of nutrients everyday can sometimes be difficult

I know these seem like small little baby steps and maybe you're chomping at the bit to get on to bigger things but the basis of being "selfish" is very important. Especially since women in particular are programmed to take care of everyone else and sacrifice their happiness to please. You were given (literal) baby steps to get this way and now I'm going to give you (figurative) baby steps to get back out!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Get Up and Go Girl!

Now that you know my number 1 rule - it's ok to be selfish - it's time to put that in practice. I want you to take a few weeks and start doing things for yourself. I don't mean going shopping whenever you want or blowing the world off for an hour a week, I mean taking time to really take care of yourself. Drinking enough water everyday, taking vitamins, working out - the things that you need to do to take care of yourself.

Here's the way I see things: You are a machine. Not in the gears, wheels, and blinking lights sense, but in the sense that you are your own production machine. You work, you go to school - everything you do is productive. You have a goal, you tackle it, you get it done. But if you're not taking care of yourself you won't be as sharp or motivated. As a perfect example, I barely slept last night and writing this article is much harder than it should be!!

As we all know, habits don't happen over night, so I want you to start slow. This week's goal: Drink your 64 ounces of water everyday. It really sounds harder than it is. I keep a 20 ounce bottle on my desk and every time I need to stretch my legs I go and refill it. I drink while I'm working and I try to always have the bottle with me.

I know it seems like a tiny little step, but you will be amazed how much it helps! Good luck!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Weekend Update

Since I've been sick and not feeling very creative this week, I thought I'd give reference to a few of my favorite ladies. New articles next week, promise.

Ms. Career Girl

Girls Get Real

Christine Hassler


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Five Things Every Girl Should Own

I wanted to do a top 5 list of my very own so I went to the almighty google to get some inspiration. What I found was nothing less than disappointing - almost downright disgusting. 10 things every girl should know about boys private parts, 42 things girls should do for guys, 10 things guys wish girls knew - ummm excuse me? Why all these girls should do for boys lists? And who wrote these things? That just gave me a headache!

Instead I want to do a top 5 things that every girl should own, but might not think about until it's too late.

1 - Jumper Cables - if you have a car, it's going to break down. Don't be left stranded waiting on someone to pull up who does have their own pair.

2 - Rubber Jar Opener - it almost eliminates the need for men in the kitchen and usually rings in at less than $2.

3 - Tool Set - screwdrivers, a hammer, a socket set, and a pair of pliers. You never know when you're going to need them, so it's just better to have them. On the same hand if you change your own oil make sure you have a hydraulic jack and two jackstands. My car almost fell on my face last year - NOT an enjoyable experience.

4 - A Mentor - I know. You probably hear it all the time, but it's true. 56% of female execs say that having a mentor was important to their career success and over 2/3 of those with mentors were promoted as opposed to only 49% of women who did not (stats from The Go-Getter Girl's Guide by Debra Shigley) I'll follow up with more on mentors in another post.

5 - A Great Pair of Stilettos - Ok yes I am girling out on this one, but it's completely true. Splurge (refer to my post Money Money Money Money) on a fantastic pair of well made heels - any color will do. When you put those babies on you will feel unstoppable!

Money Money Money Money

Today I want to talk to you about the love of my life and the bane of my existence . . . MONEY! Or more to the point we need to look at managing that money. Yes I know - I suck at it too. It's a learning process and one that you should start doing as soon as possible.

The first thing my mother taught me when I started working was how to open a checking and savings account, what my register was, and how to operate an ATM. She sat me down and showed me how to write a check and stressed the importance of immediately writing it into my register. Same with Visa Check Card purchases. Personally I feel that this is one of the most important talks that a parent needs to have with their child. Sex talk, drug talk - whatever (sarcasm, by the way). Being open and honest with the little rugrats is more important, but if you're going to freak out about it at least make sure you're covering all the monetary basics too. And by the way - if you don't know how to balance a checkbook learn it now. Comment or email me - I will help you!

A checking account in good standing, all balanced out and reconciled with your bank statement each month is a wonderful thing but let's not forget the accessories here! I don't mean bracelets and shoes - I'm talking about a savings account. I've never stepped into a bank that didn't offer them, so get one. Contribute whatever you can each month, but try to drop at least $10 per paycheck into it. You never know when that extra $50 is going to come in handy. Not to mention a savings account is your key to peace of mind. Unfortunate things happen. Tires explode going 70 mph. Jobs cut positions. Dogs get sick and so can you. Having a pillow there will help you avoid the adrenaline rush when something happens to you and you know for a fact you don't have the money to cover it. Believe me girls and boys - that is NOT a fun feeling. Ideally you want to save up a minimum of 3 months worth of your expenses. Aim for 8 if possible, but no matter what you do always try to have at least SOMETHING.

Now for the third and probably most neglected area of financial security - the credit score *dum dum dum* This is something that is still largely misunderstood by a majority of the population but it's also something that runs your life. Always know what your credit score is (try Credit Karma for free or MyFico for $15 per score) and get your free credit report every year to check for fraudulent charges and incorrect information. For this one go to Annual Credit Report - don't get scammed by that website with the singing slackers unless you have $30 to spare every month. And if you do put it into your savings account!

Last but certainly not least be smart about your spending. Identify the areas where you feel a splurge is necessary to project a professional appearance at work, or even a monthly massage to spoil yourself but there's no need to routinely spend $80 a pair on shoes or $90 on jeans.

Being Selfish Can Be Healthy

Remember when you were little and your mom would always tell you to share your toys and not be selfish? Yeah - me too. Twenty something years later I realized that I was still sharing my toys and not being selfish, even when I really should have been. I was run down, tired, sick all the time, and just all around cranky. And that's when it dawned on me - it IS okay to be selfish sometimes!

Think about your life now - about all the pressure put on you to be someone or something that you may not be. How much of your life do you devote to that? How much of your brainpower is involved in making someone else happy? How do you feel when you get home? I can probably guess because I remember doing exactly the same thing. I was a habitual people pleaser, everything from putting in extra hours at a job I hated to keeping my hair long for the boy I was dating (I hate having long hair, just for the record). Even after dealing with all of that stress and coming home at the end of the day mentally drained I didn't stop. It wasn't until several years later (sans the boy, obviously) that I realized how miserable I was. And that's when I stopped. I mean I stopped ALL of it. I stopped working late if I didn't want to. I chopped my hair back off to chin length. I stopped going out with my friends if I didn't want to and I started listening to my inner voice. You know the one I mean - the one that cringes when someone says "Let's go to the bar" or asks you if you're working on Saturday. I learned how to say No and how to spend a little more time making ME happy.

Now my job takes up a little more of my time, and I've recently gotten married but I never forget that even on those jam-packed, panic attack inducing weeks I need to take an hour or two to myself and go to the spa or to a bookstore. And I couldn't be happier with my routine.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Finding My Direction

I've been struggling to find a direction to take with my blog. I've already explained several posts back that I need a creative outlet. My 9 -5 is all numbers and logical calculations, weighing risks against cons, studying records and deciphering less than wonderful penmanship. My passion has always been listening to friends problems and sorting them out. Not to brag (of course!) but I've always been rather good at it, whether it be dressing friends for interviews, sticky romantic situations, or even meal ideas. And what better thing to do than to let all of that come out to hopefully help MORE people do what they want to do and not just what is expected of them. Of course from time to time I'll have a word on my industry news, but I have been doing what I do for 10 years.

I also intend on writing more frequently. The problem with 10 hour days (did I say 9 - 5? I meant 7:30 - 5:30) is that when you get home you have absolutely NO energy to do anything else. Even my cooking is taking a toll, something you will learn is very important and enjoyable to me.

That's all for tonight. Now back to watching Alice In Wonderland with my sister.

Friday, April 30, 2010

A Word on Medical Billing

I'm home sick from work today - crappy. Whatever has been going around my group of friends has finally caught up to me at the worst possible time, what with work being severely short handed and incredibly backlogged.

Instead of sitting at home being pathetic and sleeping all day I've been doing a lot of industry research (medical billing) - while being sort of pathetic and laying on my couch watching tv. What I'm finding isn't surprising. Everyone blaming the insurance companies (IC's) for not wanting to pay claims, not wanting to pay claims on time, etc etc and trying to find "streamlined" ways to bill so the IC's have to pay their claims. Take for example Bonnie Blanchfield of Massachusetts General Hospital who has developed a prototype for a streamlined medical billing system by using a single set of payment rules for multiple payers, a single claim form and standard rules of submission. I, personally, can't help but wonder how much time Ms. Blanchfield spent on this prototype and whether or not she's used it yet or if it's just a grand idea she has. I would like to see whether or not she can get all of her payors to agree to single contract.

I have a much simpler solution. A few solutions, really. Start with your staff - here's a list of questions:

1- Who are they? Is it your neighbors 16 year old daughter, or a billing professional with at least 2 years of experience?

2 - What is their background? Again - is s/he a high school student? Or has s/he worked in a medical office before? Does s/he have experience with insurance billing and IC's?

3 - What are their job responsibilities going to be? Answering phones, checking in patients, and taking payments are all jobs for anyone in your office. But when it comes to your billing the person who handles it should be knowledgeable and experienced. Starting there if you only use people who know what they're doing you should see a reduction in your errors.

Secondly - are you a participating provider, or par or are you non par? Par providers normally have a contract or some sort of guideline that the IC's must pay you by. Also insurance verification on your patients is of the utmost importance. You need to see what your patients contract says and whether or not the services you are about to perform are even covered. While it may seem advantageous to you to perform a non-covered service (and blame the insurance company for non payment) in the long run it causes you nothing but grief and many many hours sitting on the phone with the IC's and in some cases the patients themselves trying to collect your payment.

Lastly - look at your errors. What kinds of errors are you regularly getting? No authorization, invalid code, incorrect modifier? Find out how to fix it and train your staff (and yourself!) to do so. This is probably THE simplest thing you can do to get your claims through the computer system the first time before it hits the queue and goes to the examiners.

With a little bit of self examination you can reduce your billing time and increase your first time resolution on your claims.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Staying Focused When You Really Don't Want To

Let's face it . . . no matter how much you love your job there are going to be times when you just can't seem to keep your attention on your computer screen. We all know that along with the obvious drop in productivity there are several other not-so-great things that can come of being distracted, especially when you work in a quiet production environment like I do. If I'm speaking to a friend my managers can hear my voice, if they walk by my desk and I'm checking my facebook or twitter accounts on my Blackberry it can look like I'm completely glib about my job. But what can you do about it? Most of the time drifting is a completely subconscious activity - we don't even realize we're doing it until we look up and that same claim has been on the screen for 20 minutes.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you're taking care of yourself. Are you getting a reasonable amount of sleep? Are you eating a healthy breakfast (that does NOT include a $1 sausage biscuit from a drive-thru)? Are you drinking plenty of water during the day and getting at least 30 minutes of exercise? I realize that these factors are harped upon constantly from magazines and television shows but there's a reason for that! Consider yourself a machine - a production machine. That machine is going to need to be kept in order. Regular maintenance will need to be done, gears oiled, computers calibrated, etc, etc. If you don't take care of your production machine, it will run slower and break down more frequently.

When I'm having a day when I really don't want to be at my desk, like when it's a beautiful spring day outside or I'm tired, I personally make myself continuously click - for the type of work that I do it's actually a fairly easy way to stay moving. This may not work for everyone, but usually as long as your fingers are moving you're focused on what they're doing. There are, of course, days when that method simply will not work. If that's the case the next best fall back is to block out everything around you with music. Most phones these days come with some sort of music player But if you don't have one of these or your phone belongs to your company, the price of mp3 players keeps dropping dramatically. I've seen some for as low as $14.99. Playing the right kind of music - I don't recommend anything that regularly makes you sleepy - can keep your mind engaged and after a while you may even start typing to the beat of the music.

If a "band-aid" approach isn't helping you at all sit down and make a list of everything that needs to get done today. Sometimes having a something visual makes it easier to stay on track. Prioritize this list from MOST important to LEAST important. At the bottom of the page, write a reward. It could be anything from a small frozen yogurt to a beer with dinner to a new outfit (if your budget allows). Obviously you're going to need to be reasonable with this list - don't under schedule yourself but also don't cram so many things onto the list that you just can't possibly finish in one day - remember there's always tomorrow. As you go down your list and check things off not only will that be your production record, but it will give you a sense of accomplishment which is an automatic mood booster. At the end of the day, if you've finished your to do list - you get that reward! Not only do you have something to work towards, but there in black and white will be everything that you've accomplished that day. At the end of the day, organize your desk a little more to make sure you're flowing as efficiently as possible and then go home and make sure to go to bed on time!

Monday, March 8, 2010

You Have Exactly the Life You Want

I'm always watching people. Big people, small people, famous people, normal people, rich people and poor people. I love them. All of them. Even if they annoy the crap out of me, I still find them fascinating. What I find most interesting is that no matter how much they complain and whine and moan every person has exactly the life that they want. I don't mean the life that they say that they want - I mean the life that deep down inside they think that they deserve. But Amy B, you may be saying, how can that be? I'm miserable and I hate my life! Let me explain.

First and foremost it has to do with your sense of self worth. Are you important to you? Are you your number one priority? I understand that with kids and family come certain responsibilities that you have to tend to. However don't make excuses to limit your happiness. You must first believe that you are deserving of the things that you want. Once you have that sense of self worth, like you are important and you do deserve to be happy and to have the life you WANT, then the rest will come more easily. Grab life by the horns and realize that life doesn't happen TO you, it happens because of you. Not days and seconds - those will happen either way. But moments, events, and experiences.

The next thing to look at is what you believe. Do you believe that the economy is so bad that you'll never pull out of your rut? Do you believe that you really are doing the best that you can do? No matter what you believe, that is what is going to carry over into your life. To you I say - is it? Are you? Are you using the full potential of the 16 hours that you are awake? We have 24 hours in a day - 8 are for sleeping (and you should get your full 8 hours. It will help you to be more well adjusted and can actually make you happier), 8 are for your 9 - 5 job that we all know you MUST have in order to survive. But what about the other 8 hours?

This is where the doing comes into play. First you believe: I can do more. I can make my life better. Say it over and over again. Write it on your mirror. Write it on a sticky note at your desk. Put where you can see it all the time. Constantly remind yourself of it. Now that you have that in your head and you have positive energy going out (yes I am leaning on The Secret here a little bit) sit down with a sheet of paper. What do you want? Me for example - I want a creative outlet where I can reach people and hopefully help someone. So what am I doing? Blogging. To some it may be silly and pointless but to me it lets me feel like I might be making a difference somewhere. Hopefully. You'll have to let me know. But maybe your goals aren't as simple as mine. Maybe you want to get out of debt. Maybe you want to find a fulfilling career. Maybe you want more money in the bank (who doesn't!). Maybe you just want more activities in your life, more friends, more vacations, etc etc. Write that down and really focus on it. Believe you can do more, you can achieve ________. And you know what? You will.

So now that you have your positive energy and your belief in yourself and you goal sit down and brainstorm your ways to make that happen. List ideas until they sound ridiculous. Keep going and going until you just can't think of another thing. And then think of 5 more. Look at your list and take out the 5 most ridiculous. Then go from there. Find however many you think you would like to work on. Highlight them, circle them, star them - whatever is going to keep them in your mind, do that. And then go for it in the other 8 hours.


Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Finding My Passion

I find myself asking myself the same question everyday: What do I want? What do I want to do? What do I want to be? What will make me wake up everyday and bounce out of bed, excited to go to work?

For the last 8 years I've worked in the same field doing almost the same thing everyday. It's a thankless job and no matter what you do someone always hates you for it. Not to mention at my current place of employment I can never seem to get anything right. As soon as I get something down, it changes or someone changes their minds about the way it should be done. I get up every morning and fuss because I have to go to work. I sit at a computer and click for 8 hours and get absolutely nothing fulfilling from my job. My favorite thing about my job is the fact that I get to do some volunteer work. I'm also on the birthday committee so I regularly get to plan lunches and bake cupcakes.

Today was a slow day for me so I had plenty of time between my screens loading to think about the things I enjoy doing. I love reading - but I really don't know how to make money doing that. I love to write, but that's mostly something I do for myself. I love modeling and I frequently do photo shoots to build my portfolio, but it takes lots of hard work to be a model. Not to mention the constant dieting and scrutiny that takes a toll on your self esteem.

So I've been thinking about baking. My coworkers call me the Queen of Cupcakes and everyone looks forward to me bringing them in. My cupcakes have even been requested between parties. So here's my plan for the next few months:

1 - Go ahead and go back to school. I never finished my degree and I would like to have it. I took my CPT today and will be making an appointment with my registrar tomorrow.

2 - Develop my own cake recipes. This might take a while. I want to have a recipe that I can call my own.

3 - Research bakeries and opening a business. Look for an internship at a local bakery to get experience in the business.

Hopefully having something of my own to do will keep me occupied in the other 8 hours of my day!