Health Information Management

Heal the divide between HIM and CDI

HIM-HIPAA Insider, April 20, 2010

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Divisions between HIM and clinical documentation improvement (CDI) staff members are common. But in actuality, everyone needs to work together for the success of the whole. So how do you effectively promote collaboration and partnership in your facility?

  • Make sure that everyone spends some quality time together. “One of the things that I was very adamant about was making sure this group met regularly,” says Tamara A. Hicks, RN, BSN, CCS, CCDS, manager of care coordination at North Carolina Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem. “Even if we just sat in the same room and looked at each other, at least we had the forum.” This allows both CDI and HIM staff members the opportunity to meet and air concerns, such as when a coder feels as though a CDI specialist is stepping on his or her toes or a CDI professional believes coders are just being nitpicky about some coding rule.
  • Take advantage of hospital resources that may help heal bruised egos. “I jokingly tell people that we went through therapy together,” Hicks says. “We used the employee assistance program here at the hospital and we went through ways to talk to each other appropriately, disagree with each other appropriately, and did team building exercises.” Doing so can help reinforce the respect that various staff members need to have for each other and the different background knowledge and experiences each member brings to the table.
  • Look at how staff members communicate with each other. The ability to communicate effectively is critical to the program. If CDI staff members are visiting your coders’ cubicles regularly, the coders may become resentful because it slows them down and affects their productivity. Hicks’ facility developed a communication worksheet that the CDI staff can fill out and give to the coders instead. “Now they are writing each other notes and sending each other e-mail, and that has helped a lot because now they’re not in each other’s faces,” she says.
Editor’s note: For additional tips, see the April issue of Medical Records Briefing.

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