From Coder to Clinical: How Darla Martin is reshaping Client Success at Iodine

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Darla Martin, RHIA, CCS, CCDS, recently joined Iodine Software as the newly appointed Clinical Program Manager. Darla comes to the Iodine clinical team after spending 20 years in the healthcare consulting industry. Her career has included coding and clinical documentation program implementation within the broader healthcare space.

Darla began her career as a coder within several acute care facilities, focusing on patient care through medical record code assignment. “I was always interested in anatomy, the pathophysiology of disease, and being involved on the clinical side of patient care,” explains Darla, “but having the coding angle allowed me to learn the more clinical aspect of my field through review of a record.”

After spending 13 years in coding and quality, Darla transitioned her expertise towards the Clinical Documentation Improvement healthcare consulting force. During her tenure at Huron Consulting, Darla brought a coding experience and introduced a successful platform for a coding department to operate, alongside a clinical documentation team.

Darla spent her consulting career creating and implementing clinical documentation programs for various hospitals and introduced a coding education and training that reshaped the performance of CDI programs.

“I was able to bring a coding perspective into the CDI space, and to educate nurses on a new approach to record review.  Looking at documentation opportunities not only from a clinical perspective, but also from a coder’s viewpoint; reviewing what documentation was there, but also understanding what was lacking for appropriate code assignment.  Coding guidelines and coding clinics play a huge part in the CDI specialist role, so quality reviews are an important part of the process” reflects Darla. “To witness nurses blossom in a new role, learn to educate their physicians about CDI, and just become passionate about the role was absolutely rewarding.”

The transition from a coder to working in the clinical space implementing and supporting hospital CDI programs allowed Darla to take part in the entire clinical documentation process, a new environment which focused on the process of documentation as it related to the quality of patient care.

As Clinical Program Manager for Iodine Software, Darla will work with the clinical services team to implement Iodine’s technology.  This role will allow her to bring her coding expertise to team trainings, and serve as a thought leader on how coders and clinical documentation specialists can work together to bring detailed reporting to documentation.

In an era where technology is used in healthcare more as a necessity rather than a preference, Iodine is revolutionizing the industry approach to clinical documentation.

“What brought me to Iodine was the desire to make CDI teams aware of quality versus quantity. Iodine is about quality in record documentation and focusing attention on the right cases at the right time, which is a fairly new concept and needs to be brought to the forefront in the CDI space.  A change in review focus from the CDI specialist is needed to accomplish this goal.”

Historically, CDS performance has been measured by volume of cases reviewed. Iodine has flipped this train of thought to look at the depth of each patient record, the likelihood of query rate, and prioritize the right cases for each CDS to focus on proper documentation.

For Iodine to introduce a coding presence for clients helps to connect the dots in understanding why principal diagnoses matter for a CDS to code, and to remain focused on the documentation accuracy.  Darla’s expertise helps a specialist understand the simplicity of coding when it comes to their role, and the importance of using clinical judgement, expertise and critical thinking to increase query count.

Darla is already working hard to bridge the gap between coders and CDI teams. Her extensive experience and perspective is helping build successful relationships and encourage educated communication between hospital departments. “I cannot wait to watch teams flourish, increase their query counts, and learn through the software.  The ability to watch specialists grow and continue to enhance their programs is what makes each experience new and refreshing.”

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