Health Information Management

Q&A: Defining roles for physician advisor/champion

CDI Strategies, April 11, 2013

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Q: Is it true that a CDI physician advisor/champion cannot be a direct patient care provider?

A: CDI departments are not required to have a physician advisor; however, it is beneficial to have a physician champion.  I make a distinction between the two. I define a physician advisor as someone who holds a formal position for which he/she has interviewed and receives compensation.  On the other hand, a physician champion can be a provider who understands and supports the mission of CDI, serves as an informal resource for the CDI staff, and promotes the efforts of the CDI staff among their colleagues.
Either the physician advisor and/or physician champion can be a direct provider of patient care. Hospitalists often make great advisors/champions.
The distinction is that as the CDI advisor, the provider cannot document in the record of patients for whom they are not providing direct care.
It is unacceptable for the advisor/champion to add documentation or order services for the purpose of reimbursement/metrics for those under the care of another provider. Just because a physician advisor/champion is an independent licensed practitioner it does not mean that they can render a medical opinion on all patients and change the documentation within the health record.
Additionally, their opinion does not supersede that of the attending provider when they are consulting, as their documentation would be treated the same as that of any other consultant.  If their documentation conflicts with that of the attending, a query for clarification may be warranted. When acting in the role of advisor/champion they must abide by industry standards (AHIMA guidelines) for communication with the medical team (e.g., querying) just like coding and nursing/CDI staff.
Editor’s Note: Cheryl Ericson, MS, RN, CCDS, CDIP, AHIMA Approved ICD-10-CM/PCS Trainer, CDI Education Director for HCPro Inc., answered this question which was originally published on the ACDIS Blog. Contact her at For information regarding CDI Boot Camps offered by HCPro visit
Additional references from the ACDIS website related to this article:

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