March 10, 2017 | | Comments 0
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Radio Recap: Technology and its impact on CDI



As with all aspects of the medical field, new technology shifts CDI. Sam Antonios, MD, FACP, SFHM, CCDS, a board certified internist and CDI and ICD-10 physician advisor for Via Christi in Wichita, Kansas, shared his thoughts on technology’s effects on CDI during the November 29, 2016, ACDIS Radio broadcast.

At his own facility, Antonios deploys new technologies, which gives him a unique perspective on implementation. “Technology needs to be viewed as something that is happening and cannot be ignored. It will influence and it will shape the future,” Antonios said. “We’ve gotta embrace it and learn to live with it. But not only that, learn how to [leverage] it as a competitive edge because there is a large and vast need for that type of skill set,” Antonios advised.

The typical workflow for CDI staff at Via Christi goes something like this: reviewing charts, recognizing opportunities, and sending queries to providers and physicians. Technology influences the way all these steps happen, according to Antonios.

Technology also changes the physical location of the CDI professionals within the hospital, according to Antonios. When paper charts were the norm, CDI specialists had to physically be on the floor of the facility. Now, they can work from their offices in the facility or even from home. While this shift improves things like commute time and efficiency, it can have a negative effect on CDI/physician relationships, Antonios warned.

The relationships between CDI specialists and physicians are important. Because of this, Antonios said that all parties need to be more intentional. Relationships can erode under this new system. “There’s gotta be strategies that compensate for that remote work. Otherwise, over the long run, those relationships are at risk. Those relationships are very critical to get the query back, for education, and for training for some of the residents,” Antonios said.

As far as Natural Language Processing, Antonios said that his facility is in stage two. The logarithms for the Natural Language Processing are getting a lot better in his opinion. In the next stage, the systems will not only pick up on words but also start to detect intent and underlying meanings. This could totally change how a CDI professional conducts the review process. As it stands right now, the Natural Language Processing systems are “hit or miss” for CDI professionals, according to Antonios.

Physician-facing Natural Language Processing could advance the CDI process even further. If the system made suggestions to the physician as they created and updated their records, it could limit the number of queries and speed up the CDI process. “I suspect that we’ve got three-to-four years to really see it mature,” Antonios said.

Although the advent of new technologies has many benefits, Antonios did acknowledge some potential drawbacks. Copy/past errors pose one of the biggest problems with electronic health record technology. The computer cannot tell what pieces of the record have been copy/pasted and therefore it can miss mistakes and opportunities for a query. It’s the “one thing that keeps tripping up all Natural Language technology,” Antonios admitted.

Sepsis detection presents another potential pitfall. Over the last month, Antonios’ facility tried to fine-tune the algorithm for sepsis detection. “We are still in the early stages of making sure that technology is as close to predictive prognostication such as a human being,” Antonios said. In some cases, the technology may have increased sepsis detection, but the mortality rates did not change.

CDI specialists “need to pay attention” over the next few years as Antonios foresees all facilities moving to completely electronic documentation. CDI staff need the skills to guide the physicians in optimizing their documentation. “I think of the CDI role now as a little bit of a hybrid to be similar to an informaticist’s role. [CDI specialists need to] become super users,” Antonios advised.

With all the new technologies, Antonios said that “no one in the hospital is better positioned to be at the elbow of physicians guiding them through best practices in documentation than a CDI.”

Editor’s Note: ACDIS Radio is a bi-weekly, free, webinar featuring ACDIS Director Brian Murphy with case study presentations and interviews with some of the CDI industry’s most cutting-edge practitioners. Tune in every other Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. ET. Register at To review the remote CDI poll on the ACDIS website, click here. For more information on remote CDI, read this “Ask ACDIS” and this article. The February 2016 Quarterly Conference Call also featured a discussion of remote CDI, and this article offers some rational for remote positions.





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Linnea Archibald About the Author: Linnea Archibald is the CDI editor for the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS). In this role, she helps out with the website, blog, social media, newsletter, and the CDI Journal. If you have any questions, feel free to email her.

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