Health Information Management

News: The CDI leader’s keys to success: Solid partnerships, driving improvements

CDI Strategies, March 31, 2016

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In 2014, 66% of 318 hospitals surveyed by AHIMA had a CDI program in place. If all surveyed facilities that planned to implement a CDI program did so, 80% of responding hospitals would have one. These numbers are likely even higher today as CDI programs become ever more relevant.

When CDI program staff collaborate with providers and coders around improved documentation, the result is more accurate coding, reporting, quality metrics, and reimbursement. In addition, healthcare is steadily moving toward value-based purchasing and greater scrutiny from regulators and the public. With all of this in mind, it is more important than ever to get documentation and coding right. The daily activities surrounding CDI are crucial to successful outcomes and sustainability of facilities and healthcare systems. 
What does it take to effectively lead a CDI program in the current environment? The three key development areas for successful CDI leadership are:
  • Process
  • Communication
  • Relationships 
Driving results through processes and data alone will not sustain the CDI program. The CDI leader must be visible and approachable. He or she must collaborate with other key stakeholders, including the following:
  • HIM and coding
  • Physician advisors
  • Providers
  • Revenue management
  • Facility and health system leadership
  • Quality
  • Compliance
  • Case management
  • Utilization review
  • Nursing and other clinical departments 
In larger health systems with regional CDI programs, leveraging the skills of experienced CDI managers to mentor novice CDI managers can assist in raising levels of performance. The HIM/coding leader can act as a mentor for CDI, which can lead to opportunities for shared knowledge and also foster relationship building.
Attention to training, mentoring, and education for CDI staff is also essential for successful outcomes. Training plans should include a tight hiring and onboarding processes. Perform initial and annual competency assessments with focused education and follow-up where needed. Taking these steps will help ensure quality and compliant work efforts.
As savvy CDI leaders continue to emerge, internal education and support are key pillars for achieving long-term goals and staff and leader satisfaction. Association memberships, both locally and nationally, also provide avenues for education and collaboration. In addition, when focused results are desired in any of these areas and external assistance is needed, outside consultants can be invaluable. 
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in JustCoding.

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