In the ever-evolving world of healthcare, one woman stands at the forefront of innovation and the intersection of technology and compassion. Meet Shameka Hooks, executive director of coding, clinical documentation improvement (CDI), revenue integrity, and health information management (HIM) at WakeMed.
With more than 125 dedicated professionals by her side, Hooks is not just overseeing regulations, coding education, and medical coding; she’s spearheading major technological initiatives that are revolutionizing WakeMed’s position in the healthcare market.
Her journey in healthcare began with an early dream of becoming a doctor, which eventually led her to a career that now blends her passion for patient care with her analytical and inquisitive mind. “It’s like being a detective,” she says, describing her love for deciphering medical records, identifying missing information, and ensuring accurate documentation—a task that holds major financial implications for a healthcare organization.
Hooks’s career trajectory took her through various roles, from inpatient medical coder at the University of North Carolina Health to manager of HIM at LifeCare Hospitals of North Carolina. She later made her way back into coding, mentoring students and staff. However, it was her part-time position as an inpatient coder at Raleigh, North Carolina-based WakeMed that would prove pivotal in her journey. Little did she know that this choice would eventually lead her to the role she holds today.
She served as a coding educator, responsible for training the entire system, before she decided to take a role in Charlotte as the director of coding at Atrium Health. However, her return to WakeMed was perhaps predetermined, given her deep love for the organization and its commitment to personal growth.
Hooks unfortunately entered a difficult chapter with her family during this time, causing her to make the tough but clear choice to move back to Raleigh. Having left Atrium, she decided to join Enjoin, a fully remote, physician-owned clinical company on a full-time basis. This move offered her the opportunity to be closer to her family while delving deeper into clinical information.
Two years later, an unexpected call came in from WakeMed. The company offered her a managerial role in CDI. While this position normally requires a nursing background, Hooks’s experience at Enjoin coupled with her coding expertise made her a perfect fit, thus the expedited timeline of her career began to take shape. Her promotion to her current role took place in spring 2022.
At the heart of Hooks’s role lies the mission to improve provider documentation through the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) tools. By collaborating closely with providers, she aims to enhance documentation clarity in real time, ultimately benefiting both clinical and nonclinical aspects of patient care.
Leveraging AI tools promises to streamline the workflow for physicians and ensure that documentation accurately reflects the care they provide. To ensure her team stays up to date with American Hospital Association coding standards, Hooks develops a work plan each fiscal year with her team that includes regular audits of potential high-risk diagnoses and procedures as well as monthly education sessions. Her firm commitment to education and professional development is evident as she advocates for ongoing learning and growth for her team.
The executive director’s leadership style is characterized by empathy and support. She fosters an environment where every member of her team feels valued and understood. Regular one-on-one and group sessions—including book clubs on various topics pertaining to their work environment—ensure open communication and collaboration. Her leadership is centered around constantly improving the individual to improve the group as a whole. It’s about achieving common goals.
When asked why she chose WakeMed, Hooks is overcome with admiration. “WakeMed is my home,” she says. “Sometimes you can get lost in the shuffle of an organization, but WakeMed works to make you feel like you mean something.”
She also appreciates the organization’s commitment to putting patients and their families first. Most of all, she cherishes her team, emphasizing the joy she feels when working with them. “I can’t put it into words how it feels to log on and know you have your team’s support,” Hooks says.
Hooks advises her younger colleagues to go about their careers “the right way.” “Make sure you don’t go for the quick ad that says you can be a coder in three months . . . sometimes, it’s just too good to be true,” she cautions. “Go to an accredited institution, get a proper education, and find out what you love.” She also encourages perseverance and keeping an open mind, noting that with a clear plan, vision, and a willingness to learn, the possibilities in the healthcare industry are limitless.
Enjoin is proud to partner with Shameka Hooks and WakeMed in supporting their innovative efforts with revenue integrity and CDI to accurately translate their patients’ stories. Since 1988, Enjoin has offered clinically integrated physician directed solutions to improve the quality of documentation and coding, and optimize mid-revenue cycle performance. Led by clinical leaders and practicing physicians with strong academic backgrounds in scientific based medicine coupled with certified coding and clinical documentation credentials, we focus on improving patient outcomes with deep clinical expertise and advanced clinical documentation practices to drive clinical integration, revenue integrity, and quality of care across the continuum.