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Owning My Career Path: How I Became an Auditor

Wednesday, August 15, 2018 9:00 AM

BSM Products and Services, Meet Your Team, The BSM Way

Written by: Laurie Brown

Laurie Brown
Senior consultant

One benefit of working for BSM is being part of a company culture that empowers employees to own their career path. This supportive environment allowed me to pursue my goal of becoming an auditor with the Rose & Associates division of BSM. Less than two years ago I was a practice administrator, and now I’m an auditor evaluating how well practices across the country comply with Medicare rules and regulations. Can you believe it? Becoming an auditor is a professional accomplishment that took a lot of determination and time — nine months, to be exact. Read the process I followed to achieve this career milestone below.

Not an Overnight Process

My professional background, along with extensive training, helped me a lot on my journey to become an auditor. Working as a Certified Ophthalmic Medical Technologist (COMT) and Certified Ophthalmic Executive (COE) for more than 30 years taught me ophthalmology practice management from the ground up. This knowledge was extremely useful when I was a practice administrator. As an administrator, I continually organized my practice’s compliance processes to make them more efficient. This included creating and documenting processes and procedures, conducting internal audits, and training the entire practice team — all of which helped prepare me to become an auditor.

The tests required to become an auditor — the Certified Professional Coder (CPC) and Certified Professional Medical Auditor (CPMA) — were a huge undertaking. Each exam included a solid three months of studying, not including the time I spent completing in-person and online study course lessons. I am familiar with certification tests and relished the opportunity to learn more. Knowledge of how payers — specifically Medicare — handle their auditing of physician practices and facilities was eye-opening.

With my newfound knowledge, I now have more insight into the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) processes and how to remain objective during the auditing process. Let me elaborate. A mantra heard often in the auditing world is: “If it wasn’t documented, it wasn’t done.” This mantra serves as a reminder that while I may understand what the provider meant to document — but failed to do so properly — I must remove my perception from the situation. There is no credit for good intentions throughout the audit process, and my understanding of what the provider meant to document does not make up for a failure to do so. Remembering this allows me to remove myself from the process and look at each document objectively.

My new Rose & Associates team follows a tried-and-true auditing process — something I learned while shadowing my mentor, Patricia Kennedy, as she performed onsite practice audits. Patricia and I have known each other for many years as industry colleagues, and her similar ophthalmic clinical background made her a fantastic teacher. It was wonderful to work alongside Patricia and learn her systems and thought processes when auditing. After being in the field with Patricia, I now better understand some of the decisions CMS auditors are forced to make based solely on documentation and general reasoning.

‘Keep an Eye Out’

My journey to become an auditor wouldn’t have been possible without the support of BSM. It’s through the company’s beliefs and commitment to personal and professional growth, continuing education, and mentoring that I can proudly call myself an auditor. As such, I’m now able to help BSM practice clients become more compliant, effectively and resourcefully reducing their risk — something I find immensely rewarding. Who knows? I may visit your practice to ensure compliance, so keep an eye out!

UPCOMING EVENT: Laurie Brown’s colleague E. Ann Rose will present Aug. 25 at the 2018 Combined Ophthalmic Symposium on various compliance topics, including auditing. Learn more here.

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