Health Information Management

Q&A: How to find the right physician champion

CDI Strategies, January 8, 2009

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Q: What’s the basic role and purpose of a physician champion/advisor in a CDI program? Do you have any suggestions for a job description of such a position?

A:You first have to consider a potential physician's interest level in your CDI program (i.e., does he or she understand the value and importance of the clinical documentation specialist's role), says Colleen Garry, RN, BS, assistant director of Clinical Documentation at New York University Medical Center, NY, and a member of the ACDIS advisory board.

"I would recommend a 'physician's physician'--by this, I mean you really need someone that has the respect of his or her peers, is influential, and intimately knows the culture and climate of the organization," Garry says. "The CMO/medical director is an ideal choice because a physician champion needs to navigate both the clinical and administrative sides successfully."

Make sure this person will “champion” your cause and communicate the importance of the CDI program to his or her peers. The physician champion should be able to relay the cause of the CDI specialists with the physician’s roles and responsibilities, and balance the organizational mission objectives with the benefits a CDI program has on individual physicians’ profiles (i.e., make the program a win-win for the hospital and the physician).

Garry adds that the physician champion role may need to be shared (e.g., among a representative of both medicine and surgery) in order to ensure success. "Definitely involve all that show interest," she says. "The more physician involvement, the more successful your program will be. CDI programs will not make it without physician support."

(Note: ACDIS members can access a description of a physician champion job description provided by Gloryanne Bryant. Go to the forms and tools section of the ACDIS Web site)

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