Health Information Management

Strategy: Try these tips to engage physicians in your CDI program

CDI Strategies, January 8, 2009

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In a November 17 HealthLeaders Web cast, 5 Ways to Hospital-Physician Quality: Goals, Incentives, Dialogue, Infrastructure, Data, Rebekah Wang-Cheng, MD, FACP, medical director for clinical quality at Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, OH, offered several strategies to facilitate physician communication. Consider the following techniques to improve physician education and awareness of your CDI program: 
  • Educate one-on-one, face-to-face, in real time. When addressing a particular problem with physician documentation, don’t wait, says Wang-Cheng. Use a specific case that happened within the past day or two to illustrate your point.
  • Educate in groups. Go where physicians gather, Wang-Cheng says. Offer education sessions during quarterly medical staff meetings, or specialty meetings
  • Show data. CDI specialists constantly gather data, benchmark and report this data back to the physicians. When physicians see how appropriate documentation affects patient care and the overall mission/wellbeing of the facility they will be more likely to understand the mission behind your position.
  • Walk in their shoes. Shadow a physician for a day to observe the pattern of their care. That way you’ll have a better understanding of the physician’s work flow. Armed with understanding you can adjust your query process to fit their needs as well as your own.
  • Say, “Thanks.” If a physician is responsive to your inquiries, praise him or her for their helpfulness. Take your appreciation a step further, says Wang-Cheng, by sending him or her a thank you note to their home so they can show their family. “There’s nothing better than to be able to say to a spouse: ‘Look, someone said something nice about me.’”
  • Start at the top. Approach physician leaders in various disciplines. This type of influence will help you “spread and sustain the education,” Wang-Cheng says.
  • Listen as much as you talk. Emphasize with the physicians. Realize they have difficulties, both professional and personal, too. Don’t be afraid to admit ignorance but be sure to ask for their assistance when you do.
  • Make the physician lounge a welcoming place. A CDI specialist may not have direct involvement regarding the physical location and ambiance of the physician lounge, but he or she can use the lounge as a way to get the word out about the CDI program. Visit often and leave specific, small tokens of appreciation from time to time.

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