Tammy Norville, Rural Health Operations Specialist for NCORH

What is the most important thing you are working on right now?
I am working on becoming a certified professional coder with an instructor certification and then certified compliance professional.  Building this skill set within the office has positioned us as a resource for safety net providers and other folks as well. Coding and documentation is such a big part of how clinics stay afloat.  ICD-10 put a spotlight on this.  We are helping RHCs understand the business aspect of healthcare and become a mission driven business.  When you have been in one clinic, you have been in one clinic.  You need understand the dynamics of the community to really be able to help them. Our work on this allowed us to grow our technical assistance with health departments and has led to our inclusion in Medicaid reform efforts in our state.

How did you get to where you are now?
I began by helping inner city childcare facilities with their financial operations.  I then worked for an organization to open assisted living facilities and get through all the inspections throughout four states.  I then applied for a job with the state to survey assisted living communities, but worked with mental health.  I applied for a job at the SORH in 2003 and am still here 12 years later.

What skill sets do you think SORH staff need?
I think flexibility and adaptability are important because things change fast.  Just because you provide things this way now, in five years things need to change. Personally, I think coding/billing/documentation is an important skill set – this is the root of the viability of the clinic.  You don’t need to be a coder, but you can understand the concepts.

What is something great about rural health in your state?
Medicaid Reform is having conversations across divisions.  Whatever happens with reform conversations will determine if we do expansion.  These conversations were a step that needed to happen.  ICD-10 training was also a cross-divisional effort.  When we all work together, then we can be successful.