HIMAA Newsletter, September 2020 – Member Profile



We are very proud that our Group Co-ordinator, Quality Assurance, Aircoder – Pratheena Augustine, was selected for a member profile article in the monthly newsletter (September 2020) of the Health Information Management Association of Australia (HIMAA). We understand that this is the first time the feature has been about an overseas member and this is something to be very pleased about at Synapse Medical Services.

We are delighted about the passion for clinical coding within our team at Synapse and the journey to support our revolutionary automated platform.

Well done Pratheena!

Q1. You are a group coordinator- Quality Assurance Aircoder for synapse medical services in Chennai, India. Could you please break this down and explain to our members.

  • What is the description of your title, what do you do day to day in this position?
  • How long have you been working for this company?
  • Your resume says you live in India, what are you issues you are facing with the present COVID-19 pandemic?

I am currently working with Synapse Medical Services as a Group coordinator – Quality Assurance. I joined Synapse in May 2018 as a Clinical Coder and the last couple of years have been an enriching journey, giving me an opportunity to be trained and work on many Specialties and enhance my expertise in clinical coding. With an immense focus on technology and enhanced customer experience, Synapse launched “Aircoder”, a software solution to achieve efficiency and consistency in coding. I have been privileged to be given the opportunity to be a part of the project, which is an invaluable experience in itself.

COVID19 emerged as a major disruption to personal and work life this year. Like the rest of the world, India has been affected with the same Challenges. However an opportunity to continue to work from home has been a life saver. Synapse have quickly and efficiently implemented work from home to ensure that we meet the client expectations of business continuing without compromising on quality and security while ensuring the personal safety of me and all my colleagues. On the personal front, the lockdown implemented due to COVID19 means I am staying away from my immediate family (my husband is unable to return to India from Singapore due to travel restrictions). However, thanks to modern technology which has been very supportive in bridging the gap and bringing us all closer to each other through video calling and many other options.

Q2. I see from your resume you trained under Anna Coote from Australia, a HIMAA member with our association since 1981. Please give your experience and what value this may have added to your learning in this field?

Anna Coote was my coding manager for a brief period at Synapse Medical Services. Working with her was an impactful journey. My first interaction with her was a discussion about ‘ Austin bunionectimy’ and the learning from that interaction was to go beyond the comfort zone to explain a concept until it clears the blurry thoughts – we learnt concepts on how to choose ACHI codes, look for the approach use – bilateral/unilateral, any internal fixations done etc. In our last interaction we discussed the changes to the 11th edition and she made us feel better by addressing our apprehension and saying that ACS0002 will make it easy to choose additional diagnoses codes. She is a living example of two things which inspire me- “never feel ashamed to accept your mistakes instead use them as a fuel to move ahead” and that “Age is just a number, learning never stops”.

Q3. Describe 1 aspect of your position that makes a difference in the health industry?

I am doing clinical coding using standardized ICD10AM and ACHI classification system and ensuring the quality demands of our client are met and the coded data is submitted on time, in a consistent manner, which is an important facet to the health industry.

I am working as a group coordinator for Quality Assurance on a very exciting project – Aircoder, which is ensuring automation efficiency in the Clinical Coding aspect of the health industry and can be easily applied to a large scale. This is how I am contributing to the health industry with the help of my organisation “Synapse Medical Services”.

Q4. Tell us what benefits you enjoy being part of HIMAA membership? Do you receive good service from the membership department at HIMAA?

For me, being a member of HIMAA is equivalent to the joy of getting into any big university like, Harvard. As a progressing clinical coder, I love spending time to read HIM-I and HIMAA matters. I am happy to share a bit of my learnings from HIM-I.

Reference 1: volume 8 number 3 2018

Topic: clinical coding education: The clinical coders view on ongoing clinical coder education and professional development.

Learning: I understand about the importance of exploring and updating the clinical knowledge through daily informal education.

Reference 2: volume 9 number 2 2019

Topic: Supporting clinical coders understanding the Challenges, under table 8 auditing subdomain key findings point number 9

Learning: I realized the importance of conducting pre and post auditing education allows comparison and measurement which definitely yields quality coding.

The webinars conducted by HIMAA play a huge role in quenching my thirst for knowledge. For someone who is living offshore (India) the webinars are very effective in ongoing learning for me. Most importantly HIMAA provides information (links to register, key benefits of attending) on other webinars and courses related to health information. The recent one I attended was the short courses about digital health from the University of Tasmania.

I am very happy with the fantastic and timely services provided by the membership department. My special thanks to Lorisa Bhasale (Membership and events officer).

Please explain or describe something to our members that may interest them about your career?

As a counseling psychologist the knowledge I gained from clinical coding helped me to interact effectively with patients and families when I was a trainee and did my field work at major hospital in south of India, and continues to help me in discussion with people who approach me for counseling regarding their medical conditions. Clinical Coding encourages me to pursue new medical terminologies and abbreviations which is a never ending process and an opportunity to enhance my learning.

Everyday is a new learning and it is fascinating to explore the various chapters (21 in total) about different specialties- the diseases, procedures and how the diagnoses are confirmed using various medical methods and technologies.

If anybody is passionate about the healthcare industry the Clinical Coding career could be the key to fuel your passion and groom yourself in an exceptional way. Like every career, it needs practice, patience, perseverance and determination in the field of clinical coding to progress your career. You start as trained coder, moving on to become an experienced senior clinical coder after you have learnt and worked on multiple specialties. The next step is to become a Coding Trainer/ Auditor.


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