Lonnie Friesen is a North Carolina-based consultant on Sagacious Consultants' Report Writing Services team.
What brought you to Sagacious Consultants?
My first IT job was as a software developer back in 1992. Eventually I was hired away by Scott Consulting Corporation in Eagan MN to develop custom software
for various industries.
In 2004, I took a position in Dallas at Parkland Hospital, developing custom software for Disease Management Clinics. This was my first exposure to healthcare.
Eventually I transferred into the Internal Audit Department, where I wrote programs touching every conceivable application in the hospital. It was
then I received Epic certifications in Health Information Management and Hospital Billing.
In 2011, I became an independent contractor. I worked at different hospitals every 6-12 months, and was exposed to different environments and coding skills.
Then in 2014, I came to Sagacious Consultants. To date, I have worked in over 15 hospitals, from the east to west coasts!
What projects have you focused on at Sagacious Consultants?
My primary job is to write reports. They come together quickly, so I don’t consider them projects. For me, a project is something that lasts for months
and sometimes a year or better.
- 1.ICD10 Project where I had to convert all ICD 9 reports to ICD10.
- 2.StrataJazz Project involved extracting large quantities of data (58 SQL scripts in all) from Clarity and then create an SSIS
Package that automated the pulls and sent the data to a directory that was uploaded to an FTP site every 2 hours.
- 3.HEDIS Project involved the writing of two dozen measures involving both standard and nonstandard data, which was then placed
into an SSIS package and scheduled to send the data to Emblem.
- 4.Portfolio Project in which I was asked to document hundreds of reports and to basically reverse engineer the report to create
specifications for them. This was used so the client could have a way of understanding what reports they have in their inventory and what they
What project are you especially proud of?
HEDIS exposed me to the various ways a provider might go about recording data. In other words, I had to search notes as well as smart sets and flowsheets
and a dozen other disparate locations.
I understand you enjoy mentoring clients. What has been your most satisfying mentorship and why?
My most rewarding experience was working with a Practice Administrator on the Strata Jazz project. As I was writing the code, it became a best practice
for us to screen share so she could look over my shoulder as I wrote code or validated data. I organize my code differently than nearly every other
programmer I’ve met. As a result, it makes my code extremely easy for me to explain to a novice what’s happening and how it’s laid out. So, in this
case, I was mentoring the client not only on Epic and Clarity, but also on coding technique.
How have you seen the EHR reporting space change during your years of working with EHR systems?
I remember the days when a doctor or hospital wouldn’t give you a copy of your own medical record without a court order. Now, a patient can see what a
doctor is writing on their medical record, and can challenge the findings.
The government has always been involved in healthcare reporting, but back in the day those charts could be 4-5 inches thick for one patient. Now, they
can be sent electronically and CMS is able to process vast amounts of data much faster; looking for abuse, neglect and fraud.
Healthcare is always the last to upgrade technology, because it is so expensive. But now that EHR is required by the government, larger hospitals are upgrading
and smaller hospitals are being acquired by larger hospitals or insurance companies.
What would be your biggest piece of advice to share from your years of working in the industry?
Zig Ziglar once said, “Help enough other people get what they want, and you’ll automatically get what you want.” My wife tells me, “People are more important
than things.” I am not the sum of one good idea. Never be afraid to share your knowledge. The more you read, the more you learn. The more you learn,
the more you want to share. The more you share, the more you grow. Read everything, even if it pushes you outside your comfort zone.
What was your most challenging feat in the last two years, and how did you overcome it?
The HEDIS Project was the most challenging. The specifications were extremely detailed. The codes changed every year, so hard coding them meant every year
the source code would have to change. There were literally ten thousand codes! I had to come up with the most efficient way possible to write the code.
My solution, was to create a table within the database that held all these codes and defined them according to their purpose, such as sexual abuse, alcohol
abuse, drugs, cancer, diabetes, etc. What this meant is that my code didn’t have to hard code one value. I simply queried the table for the specific
value set (like sexual abuse), and then pulled the specific group within that value set. Now, when new codes come out next year, the client has to
import them into the table and the code will simply use the updated codes as appropriate.
Any big goals for 2018?
Professionally, to focus on more certifications or training in: Caboodle, SSIS, Tableau or Qlik. I won’t be able to get all of those done, but if I could
get one per year, I’d feel good about that.
Personally, to enjoy each day with my wife as we celebrate our 36th anniversary this April. To exercise more and take care of my health
so I can enjoy old age and retirement someday. I recently built a woodshop, so I’d like to learn how to build things. I need to build a road on my
land, and I’d like to put a bathroom in my workshop.
How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?
In the winter, if it’s below freezing, I light the fireplace and share a bottle of wine with my wife as we watch a movie. That is the most precious time.
My wife and I have started a little farm with chickens, greenhouse, raised gardens and an orchard with 50 fruit trees that’ll be bearing fruit in another
year or so. We have 3 cherry, 1 persimmon, 3 apricot, 6 peach, 4 nectarine, 5 plum, 5 pear and 20 apple trees with 6 varieties.
I’m going to build a pavilion and use it as a farmers market, to sell fruit on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer. Anything that doesn’t sell, we’ll
take what we want and can it, and the rest I plan to donate to homeless shelters, battered women’s shelters, food banks or anyone in need. The land
was never about money, but about how can I help the most people possible with what I’ve been given. When I retire in 8 years, it won’t be to the golf
course. I’ll be going into the orchard.