Jasmine Williams Pickett BHA, CPC, CPCI, is the co-founder, Vice President and Director of iCode Academy and iCode Healthcare Solutions.. Jasmine has worked in the healthcare industry for 14 years and obtained a dual Bachelor of Science in Health Administration and Healthcare Management from the University of Phoenix, as well as an Executive Business Certification from the Tuck Business School at Dartmouth. Jasmine remains in the ranks of top coders with her membership in the American Association of Professional Coders, and holds several coding credentials such as the CPC (certified professional coder), CPMA (certified professional medical auditor), and CPC-I (certified professional coding instructor). She is recognized as a highly skilled trainer and an overall leader in the healthcare coding industry.
Her keen auditing skills and accuracy have served companies nationwide including Georgia’s Piedmont Hospital, Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley Health Network, Michigan’s Henry Ford Health Systems, Connecticut’s Yale New Haven Hospital, Baylor, Scott, and White out of Texas, Pomona Valley Health out of California, and Georgia’s Kaiser Permanente and others. Most recently, Jasmine also worked with Optum (United Health Group) as a key leader of the fraud, waste, abuse, division managing 90 remote coders including both onshore and offshore teams over Medicare, Medicaid, and Commercial lines of business.
She combined her work experience, extensive knowledge, and desire to create an active dialogue in the healthcare solutions industry to cofound Medical Coder Women Connect. Today the group totals 1500 members. Jasmine also participates in a variety of forums including Medical Coders Talk USA, Jobs for PreGrad and Graduate Medical Coders, Jobs for American Medical Coders and the Medical Coders and HIM Professionals forum. Jasmine is the co-founder of a non-profit organization called iCode Academy. The iCodeAcademy’ s Mission is to positively impact economic development, employment opportunities, and overall community sustainability through education, technology advancements, and training. iCodeAcademy intends to directly impact the coding career crisis as well as the community at large providing viable employment opportunities while integrating the face of coders through diversity, as well as the landscape of the minority families and their livelihood. iCode Academy specializes in training, certification, and job placement assistance.
WHAT DOES YOUR WORK ENTAIL?
Medical billing is the process of submitting and following up on claims with health insurance companies to receive payment for services rendered by a healthcare provider. The primary job of a medical coder is to review clinical documentation to extract and translate billable information into medical codes using CPT®, ICD-10-CM, and HCPCS Level II classification systems. Medical classification, or medical coding, is the process of translating medical reports into codes used within the healthcare industry. The use of medical codes helps summarize medical services and reports. These medical code sets help medical coders document the patient’s conditions and describe the healthcare procedure(s) performed to treat their conditions.
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE NEVER HEARD OF IT, WHAT IS MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING PROGRAM?
Here at iCode Academy, we offer a 24-week training program that prepares the students to sit for the national coding exam. After a medical provider examines or treats a patient, the insurance company needs to understand what was done in order to process the bill. iCode Academy students learn how to translate physicians’ reports and a healthcare service into a medical billing claim. The responsibility of the medical biller is to follow the claim to ensure the practice receives proper reimbursement. While medical billers’ duties vary based on where they work, they typically fulfill front-end and back-end jobs that include gathering patient information, entering charges, verifying health plan coverage, securing prior authorizations, collecting copays, and “scrubbing” claims to ensure that procedure, diagnosis, and modifier codes are accurate before transmitting claims to payers and posting payments
CAN YOU REMEMBER YOUR FIRST TIME ENROLLING MEDICAL BILLING AND CODING PROGRAM, WHAT WAS IT LIKE?
I always knew that I wanted to work in the healthcare industry and after graduating high school, I immediately enrolled into nursing school. I am afraid of needles. Once clinicals started, the time came to learn to prick others as well as to be pricked with needles so we could learn how to draw blood. That did not work out too well. I could not bring myself to prick or be pricked and I quit nursing school right after that. It was not for me. So here I was, a college drop out trying to figure out “now what.” I remember seeing a commercial late one night that said, “have you ever thought about a career in medical billing and coding?” And the light bulb went off! I had that aha moment. The next day, I enrolled into the medical billing and coding program at a college here in Atlanta. The program was 13 months long. As a part of completing the program, I had to do an unpaid externship which led to me working at a doctor’s office answering phones, scheduling patients and verifying insurance. It was here that I worked my way up office manager and then to the billing manager.
WHAT IS THE MOST FRUSTRATING ASPECT OF YOUR JOB? AND THE MOST REWARDING ONE?
One of the most frustrating aspects of my job here at iCode Academy, is seeing some students not take this opportunity seriously. When we have new students come through the door, we always let students know that even though medical coding is work from home opportunity, it is still work. I have seen many students not finish the program because their focus is simply not there.
The most rewarding part is seeing students do the complete opposite. Our most successful students are those that are laser focused. Two dedicated students come to mind. The first student was a young lady from the Houston Texas area who gave birth to twin girls during Hurricane Harvey, while displaced. She never stopped attending class despite it all. I was able to help her gain employment at a Houston hospital where she now works as a behavioral health coder. The second student is a single mother of 6 in Atlanta area who completed the course. She is now working from home as an HCC coder. She sent me an email not too long ago saying how she never thought it was possible for her to be doing what she is doing now and how thankful she is for iCode Academy. These are the stories that make my heart smile and it lets me know that here at iCode Academy, we are doing something right by helping our students become certified professional coders.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ICODE ACADEMY AND ICODE HEALTHCARE SOLUTIONS.
iCodeAcademy is a leader in the medical coding training Industry. Our first-class educational learning center gives our students an edge in preparing for the AAPC certification exam. We have created an environment of excellence through our innovative technology and our highly experienced instructors.
As leaders in the industry, we are prepared to help assist many unemployed Americans transition back into the workforce. iCode Academy has created a “One Stop Shop Bundle” model for our students to get trained, certified, and job-ready, all conveniently placed under the iCode Academy umbrella.
What makes this opportunity so unique is that we also provide learning and employment opportunities through various channel partners from our sister company iCode Healthcare Solutions, which has secured many relationships and contracts with other large healthcare organizations.
At iCode Academy, we offer online externships that provide our students with real world experience, and we assist with job placement through our sister company, iCode Health. Additionally, we have partnered with WIOA. It is a program that provides grants to students who are looking to go back to school. iCode Academy is a licensed and approved training provider for the State of Georgia, Alabama, and Michigan. Since our training is remote, so we can train students from anywhere. Medical coders typically work from home and average about 50-60k annually.
WHAT ARE THE MOST ENJOYABLE PARTS OF YOUR WORK?
Seeing our students earn their CPC (certified professional coders) certification, gain employment and support their families is the most enjoyable part of our work here at iCode Academy. That’s an iCode WIN! The bonus is when our iCode alumni reach back to help current students by participating in mentoring programs. It is important for our new students to see iCode graduates not only working in the field but excelling in the field. I am immensely proud of the culture that we have created here at iCode Academy.
WHAT ARE SOME TIPS TO CONSIDER WHEN ENTERING AN ICODE ACADEMY?
Be prepared – The certification course is 24 weeks long and requires 10-15 hour per week commitment. Our students must be prepared to put their education first.
Communicate – At iCode Academy, we are here to help! We encourage our students to ask us questions, ask for assistance when needed and upon completion of the course, communicate to us that you are ready to enter the field of Medical Coding. Ask for the job.
Be positive – Having a positive mindset when the course seems difficult is extremely important. At iCode Academy, we encourage our students to embrace this new journey and push through when self-doubt kicks in. Our entire staff is dedicated to helping our students gain their coding certification and it starts with knowing that with the help of iCode Academy, you can do it!
Research- Do your research and you will soon find that medical coding is one of the fastest growing fields and it adding jobs daily. Although coders generally work behind the scenes handling patient records, you are ensuring that treatment and medical codes are entered properly which in turn, helps the patient.
DO YOU HAVE ANY PREDICTIONS FOR NEXT YEARS’ HEALTH CARE OR CODING TRENDS?
The world is changing and so does Healthcare! As technology and data are becoming more pervasive, the healthcare segment is adopting digital ways to overcome medical billing and coding challenges faced by worldwide practitioners. One of those digital platforms includes the use of artificial intelligence.
It is the unrealistic demands placed on many coders that have led industry leaders to look for ways to automate claims processing.
To that end, some of the more influential health systems have implemented, or are considering implementing, computer-assisted coding (CAC). This type of AI uses natural language processing (NLP) to recognize and extract data from medical documents for coding and billing purposes. CAC software includes 3M’s 360 Encompass™ Professional System, Artificial Medical Intelligence, Inc.’s EMscribe®, and Pulse8’s Popul8.
WHAT WERE THE TOP-3 ERRORS YOU MADE AT THE BEGINNING OF YOUR CAREER?
Error number 1 – When starting out I did not understand how to differentiate a partner from a predator. I was very naïve and thought everyone who showed iCode interest was a “friend.” I found out very quickly that everyone is not your friend and people will prey on you not having much business acumen. In that, I learned a further lesson of not telling anyone your ideas before you go live with them. In the past, I have been excited to talk about my ideas to whoever would listen, only to see my ideas be implemented by someone else. From those moments I learned to trademark everything that I do before bringing it forward.
Error number 2 – Not understanding how to cultivate relationships. Your net worth is determined by your network. Because of error number 1, I became closed off to people in general for some time. I began to feel like everyone did not want to see me win and that just was not the case. Most of my biggest supporters and champions over the years have been people that I did not know.
Error number 3 – Thinking I could do it all. I literally thought I could do it all in the beginning. I was my own website developer, content creator, accountant, etc., trying to do it all will have you stretched thin and not truly focused on your craft. Focus on what you are good at and over time create a budget for a subject matter expert lawyers, accountants, and social media. Having these people in place will allow you to flourish because you can put that energy back into your business, where it should be.
WHAT HAS CHANGED IN YOUR BUSINESS DUE TO COVID-19? HOW ARE YOU DEALING WITH THIS?
Since iCode Academy is already a virtually based trade school, even with the introduction of COVID-19, we did not have to change much. Being virtual, we had an edge over traditional brick-and-mortar schools because they had to close or move online. iCode Academy was already there. We embraced the enrollment increase and became the busiest we have ever been. It was during this difficult time that people who lost their jobs or those who faced the threat of unemployment began looking for a new career or just to gain additional income. As people became sick and had to go to the hospitals, it was the medical coders who needed to code for those hospital visits. Due to the influx of patients, hospitals across the country were at maximum capacity. We learned even more so during that time, that the medical coding field was not only necessary, but it is growing at an extremely rapid rate and that ensures that this industry is here to stay.