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Penny Richards

Penny Richards is the ACDIS Member Services Specialist. She is your primary contact for membership questions, including those about certification, recertification, continuing education credits, and employer verification inquiries.

Check out the 2014 Conference Posters

See a poster presentation at the conference that you just wish you'd had a chance to take another look at? Now you can. Just visit the Conference section of the Forms & Tools Library.

See a poster presentation at the conference that you just wish you’d had a chance to take another look at? Now you can. Just visit the Conference section of the Forms & Tools Library.

We know that not every ACDIS member gets to come to the conference every year—and those that do attend can’t get to every session. That’s why we make sure to post the materials to the Forms & Tools Library on the ACDIS website. ACDIS members have access to all the session presentations—not only from this year’s outstanding 2014 schedule but from all our previous conferences as well.

As a cheat sheet, this year’s conference tracks were as follows:

  • Track 1: ICD-10
  • Track 2: Physician engagement and education
  • Track 3: Quality and CDI
  • Track 4: Documentation and coding
  • Track 5: New initiatives
  • Track 6: Program management

To find materials, visit the page, type “control F” and type in your keyword into the search bar (usually on the lower left-hand side of the screen). For example, if you are searching for presentations by Sara Baine you would type in her name and the search function would highlight any references on the page matching that search. If you know the topic but cannot recall the presenter simply type in the topic such as “outpatient.”

We’ve posted photos of the posters from the 2014 ACDIS conference to the web site and invite you to visit and take a look. A number of the participants submitted a document that supplements their poster image.

Topics include:

With more than 30 presentations to chose from there was an educational tid-bit for everyone.

With more than 30 presentations to chose from there was an educational tid-bit for everyone.

  • Outdated Coding System
  • Hydrocephalus: Congential v. Acquired
  • Physician education: How to avoid a query
  • Integrated CDI model
  • Pediatric documentation acute respiratory distress
  • Clinical validation
  • Charting compliance and query success
  • Malnutrition documentation
  • Countdown to ICD-10
  • Collaborate with coding
  • CMI increase
  • Ensuring quality and safety for patients
  • Pneumonia
  • Role of CDI in ICD-10 physician education
  • Gambling on EHR to solve ICD-10 physician education
  • Undocumented diagnoses and query opportunities
  • Coding Type 2 myocardial infarction
  • Oncology secondary diagnosis
  • Program evolution, two facilities to system-wide
  • Pediatrics and physician education
  • Computer assisted coding
  • Effective provider communication and education
  • Malnutrition documentation program
  • Accurate documentation, code assignment, reimbursement
  • Anatomy of an effective query
  • DRG denial prevention
  • Transforming from ICD-9 to ICD-10
  • Mortality: Don’t be the biggest loser
  • Data quality
  • Physician education
  • CDMP manual for CDS
  • Implementing ICD-10 changes
  • Urology physician champions
  • Enhancing accuracy of PSI data
  • Road to query suspension
  • Pre-bill review

Click this link and sign in with your user name and password.

If you presented a poster and your description document isn’t part of the file, please email it to Penny Richards and she’ll update the web file.

Two important announcements regarding the CCDS exam

CCDS certification discussed during latest Quarterly Membership Call

CCDS certification.

Deadline for CCDS exam at ACDIS conference in Las Vegas
Friday, April 11
is the deadline to apply for the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) exam administered at the ACDIS conference in Las Vegas, Friday, May 9. You must register for this exam in advance. Late arrivals or walk-ins will not be admitted to the exam room.

To apply, download the application, complete it and return it to Penny Richards by one of the contact methods listed on the application. Be sure to mark the top of the application “LAS VEGAS EXAM.”

Contact ACDIS Member Services Specialist Penny Richards, for additional information.

ICD-10 exam update delayed to January 1, 2015
As previously announced, the ACDIS Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) exam will be changing to reflect coding guidelines under ICD-10-CM/PCS. After consideration, the CCDS Exam Committee decided to shift the effective date of the exam change to January 1, 2015. The Committee believes it is appropriate to delay exam changes until the ICD-10-CM/PCS system is in use and CDI professionals have had a chance to work in it for a few months.

The current ICD-9-CM version of the exam will remain in place for the remainder of this calendar year. The CCDS Exam Study Guide will be available at the same time the new exam takes effect and is otherwise applicable for anyone studying to sit for the exam through December.

Contact ACDIS Member Services Specialist Penny Richards with questions.

2014 Conference Poster Presentation applications due Friday, Feb. 7

The poster session at the ACDIS National Convention is always a popular event. Submit your entry by Friday, Feb. 1.

The poster session at the ACDIS National Convention is always a popular event. Submit your entry by Friday, Feb. 7.

The ACDIS Conference Committee is accepting applications for the Poster Session at the 7th Annual Conference in Las Vegas (May 7-9, 2014). You are invited to submit an application for consideration. Here are the details:

  • We will accept up to 40 posters for presentation.
  • Your topic must be CDI-related and educational in nature. Share a process or challenge/problem and your solution. Explain and create a visual of your successes with others so they may benefit from your experiences. It may be helpful to plan to include a handout. There will be more information on this at a later time.
  • You will be required to be on hand for an hour of dedicated presentation time during conference hours.
  • As a poster presenter, you will be given $200 off the cost of your conference registration. Only one discount will be applied to any poster, regardless of the number of people who work on the presentation from your organization.
  • Posters are limited in size to 36 inches by 48 inches. Any poster that exceeds that size will not be permitted.
  • There will be no judging.
  • Deadline to submit your application is February 7. The committee will make their decision by February 21 and everyone who submits an application will be advised of their status shortly thereafter.
Download and complete the application. Mail your completed application to Penny Richards at We look forward to reading your idea.

Local Chapter Events: Winter warms up with networking opportunities


Don’t the winter weather give you the seasonal blues. Get out there and network with your CDI peers.

The following ACDIS chapters are planning upcoming networking events. For additional information visit the Local Chapter page of the ACDIS website or visit the ACDIS Blog and click on the “Local Chapters” category.

Arizona: The Arizona ACDIS Chapter meets Wednesday, January 15, at 6 p.m., at Lucille’s BBQ, in Tempe. The group will discuss transition of leadership, naming the chapter, the May 2014 conference, and questions for April meeting speaker. For reservations, contact Gloria Richardson at or, or call 602-316-6415.

New York: The New York City Five Boroughs (NYC5B) ACDIS Chapter meets Wednesday, January 15, 6-8 p.m., at the Hospital for Special Surgery on E. 70th Street. Food will be provided. Agenda includes:

  • Final bylaws and member fee(s)/structure
  • Welcome and overview of CDI at the Hospital for Special Surgery
  • “Medicare’s Bundled Payment Initiative: A Look at Value-Based Purchasing and Meaningful Use,” by Judith Cashman, RN, CPHQ
  • Q&A
  • Survey for future meeting topics

For information and reservations email or

Texas: The Austin/San Antonio ACDIS Chapter meets Saturday, January 18, 9:30 a.m. to noon, at Nix Hospital, on Navarro Street in San Antonio. Nephrologist Srinath K. Tamirisa, MD, will discuss on renal failure clinical indicators and query opportunities. For information, contact Tessa Robinson at or 210-579-3121 or Shirley Alkire at or 210-297-5718.

Massachusetts: The Massachusetts ACDIS Chapter meets Tuesday, January 21, 1-3 p.m., in the Allen Riddle Building at Newton Wellesley Hospital. For additional information and to RSVP visit the chapter website

Missouri: The Missouri ACDIS Chapter meets Wednesday, January 22, 2:30-4:30 p.m., at North Kansas City Hospital, Skyview Room, in Kansas City. Agenda items, discussion topics, and RSVP to Joan Agin at

Florida: The Florida ACDIS Chapter meets Saturday, January 25, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Holmes Regional Medical Center in Melbourne. The agenda focuses on ICD-10 concerns related to:

  • Obesity and diabetes
  • Renal diseases
  • Challenges of CDI related to ICD-10

For information and reservations contact Kimberly Richert at The meeting is free for chapter members and $10 for non-members.

South Carolina: The South Carolina ACDIS Chapter meets Friday, January 31, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at Providence Hospital in Columbia. For information and reservations contact Ali Williams at Cost is $10 for members, $20 for non-chapter members. Chapter membership is $25 per year.

The Houston ACDIS Chapter meets Thursday, February 13, at noon. Location TBD. Discussion will include query forms and worksheets. For additional information, contact Pat Spooner at

Illinois: The Northern Illinois Chapter meets Tuesday, February 18, at noon at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park. The agenda topic is “The Oncology/Hematology Service Line and CDI: The Game Show.” For reservations and information, contact or 708-216-5943

The SW Ohio ACDIS Chapter meets Wednesday, March 12, at Miami Valley Hospital, on Wyoming Street, Dayton. Additional details are pending but the meeting focus will be on I-10 education tools for CDI. For information, contact Kay Huber at

Reminder: CCDS eligibility requirements change January 1

Will you qualify to sit for the CCDS exam?
New exam eligibility
New CCDS exam eligibility requirements take effect January 1. You will need to demonstrate that you have a minimum of two years of experience in CDI to take the exam.
Here are the new qualification guidelines:

  • Candidates must have at least two years of experience as a documentation specialist experience or equivalent.
    • Once a candidate has accumulated the time, it does not expire.
    • Work experience requirements must be met when the application is submitted.
    • Applications may be audited to verify work history and educational background.

Candidates must demonstrate that they meet one of the following requirements:

  • An  RHIA®, RHIT®, CCS®, CCS-P®, RN, MD or DO and two (2) years experience as a concurrent documentation specialist.
  • An associate’s degree (or equivalent education) in an allied health field and three (3) years of experience as a concurrent documentation specialist. The education component must include completed coursework in medical terminology and anatomy and physiology.
  • Formal education (accredited, college-level course work) in human anatomy and/or physiology, plus medical terminology, and disease processes, and a minimum three (3) years experience as a concurrent documentation specialist.

Applicants who qualify for the exam under current requirements may apply by December 31, 2013. Current qualifications are listed on the ACDIS web site ( and in the
exam candidate’s handbook.
Applicants have one calendar year from the date their name is submitted to the exam company to schedule and take their exam.

CCDS exam and ICD-10
The exam will be rewritten in late spring to incorporate ICD-10. We expect that exam to be in place around July 1. If you want to take the ICD-9 version of the exam, you may wish to plan to take it in early February 2014.

The pass rate for the exam is approximately 74%, and anyone who does not pass may wish to take the same ICD-9 based exam again. Given that you have to wait 90 days between attempts, you will be able to schedule again prior to July 1.

CCDS vs. ACDIS membership
CCDS certification is different from ACDIS membership. You can hold one without the other. If you hold the CCDS certification you must renew it every two years by the anniversary of the date you took the exam. To renew, submit the application, fee, and proof of having earned 20 CDI-related CEUs within the two years you held the certification. ACDIS members save $100 on their CCDS recertification fee. If you are not sure when your certification expires, email Penny Richards. Membership in ACDIS does not entitle you to use the CCDS credential.

Click here to join ACDIS online or call customer service at 800/650-6787 and ask about group membership rates to sign up your CDI team.
Here is a link to the recertification application.
Here is a link to the list of continuing education credits accepted for CCDS recertification.

Please direct questions to Penny Richards.

Six sessions slated for local chapter CDI networks

Join our local chapter for their meetings taking place in December and January.

Join our local chapter for their meetings taking place in December and January.

Date: Friday, December 6
Time: 9:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Dekalb Medical Center, Decatur
Agenda: Celina Guardiola, JD, RN, Assoc. Director CDI Consulting at Optum discusses “ICD-10: Maximizing the opportunities and mitigating the risks.” CEUs will be offered
Contact: Maria Mann,; or visit the Georgia Facebook page.
Cost: $10; $25 for membership

Date:  Friday, December 13
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Location: Maryland Hospital Association,Elkridge
Agenda: Holiday pot luck and “Toys for Tots” drive
Contact:  Andrea Norris,

Date: Thursday, December 19
Time: Noon to 1 p.m.
Location: Webex/teleconference
Contact: Susan Haley,

Date: Thursday, January 9
Time: 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Location: The Hospital of Central Connecticut, New Britain Campus
Contact: MaryAnn Shanley,

Date: Wednesday, January 15
Time: 6 p.m.
Location: Lucille’s in Tempe Town Marketplace (Hwy 101, McClintock, & Rio Salado).
Contact: Gloria Richardson,

Date: Saturday, January 25
Time: TBD
Location: Holmes Regional Medical Center, Melbourne
Contact: Jamie Dugan,; or visit

ACDIS job board dramatically trims hiring time

Forget about scanning the classifieds, search the ACDIS job postings page instead.

Forget about scanning the classifieds, search the ACDIS job postings page instead.

One of your ACDIS colleagues recently posted an open CDI position on the ACDIS job board. Today, he wrote back to tell us that within days of the post going live on the ACDIS site, they received an application from a CDI nurse who had just moved into the city. She’d been searching on the ACDIS job board, found the opening, applied, and got the position.

“I think [the job board] is great for both prospective employers desperately looking for CDI specialists to fill vacant positions, as well as CDI professionals looking for a job/change,” he said. “I can say from my personal experience that it takes three to six months to find quality CDI staff since the demand outweighs supply. So finding a good CDI specialist for our program, at such a quick turnaround rate was a miracle! Perfect timing! Plus the service was free (since I am an ACDIS member) and we did not have to pay external search agency fees which can cost between $10,000 to $20,000. Awesome service! Love ACDIS!” he said.

Have you used the ACDIS job board? As an ACDIS member you can post up to four openings in a calendar year. Why not give it a try. It’s free!

Don’t let your certification lapse due to a change in address

I'll never wear this pin but tomorrow I'll walk through the testing process.

I’ll never wear this pin but tomorrow I’ll walk through the testing process.

We recently removed several names from the CCDS certification list because those people did not recertify in a timely manner.

We send email reminders in advance of the holder’s recertification due date. When people fail to respond to email notices, we send a letter by U.S. mail.

Our mailing lists are only as good as the information you provide. If you have changed jobs or personal email accounts and have not updated your information with us, there’s a good chance we can’t get in touch with you.

Ultimately it is your responsibility to know when your CCDS expires. It expires two years from the date on which you passed the exam, and then every two years on that same date. The date you passed the exam is on your certificate.

Email Penny Richards or our Customer Service department if you have contact changes to share.

CCDS Update: When is your re-certification due?

How many professionals from your state hold the CCDS certification?

You passed the test and have your CCDS. Now, when do you need to start worrying about re-certification? Relax. You have two years from your original testing date.

Your Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) re-certification is due by the two-year anniversary of the date you passed the exam. You may re-certify at your convenience and if you need more time, there is a 45-day grace period.

Let’s use an example of someone who passed the CCDS exam two years ago today, on October 7, 2011: This person would need to re-certify by October 7, 2013. Using the 45-day grace period, it is due no later than November 21, 2013. To re-certify, you need to submit continuing education credits earned during the two year period that you held the CCDS certification (so, from October 7, 2011 to October 7, 2013).

The effective date of your re-certification (regardless of the date you submit it) is from the date it is due and then out two years (from October 7, 2013 to October 7, 2015).

When you are ready to renew, complete the re-certification application, and send it, along with proof of CEUs and the applicable fee, to the address on the application (mail, fax, or email). The application is available on the ACDIS website.

There is no current plan to restructure the CCDS re-certification requirements to include any specific number or level of ICD-10-related continuing education units.

Questions? Email Penny Richards, member services specialist.

CDI Week: Meet the (rest of) our ACDIS team

Most people hear “ACDIS” and think “Brian Murphy and Melissa Varnavas.” Over the last two years, I’ve put my name out there as well, managing the CCDS program and member services.

But believe me, it takes many more people than we three to keep the well-oiled machine that is ACDIS operating efficiently and (seemingly) effortlessly. It’s impossible to list every person and show you their happy faces, so we picked a few folks here at the home office to introduce to you. Each of them does some work on ACDIS–related matters and represent coworkers in their departments and across the company that help us bring the Association to you.


Lodzia, Wendy, and Alex

Lodzia Marchwinski is the director of planning and analysis, which means she’s our numbers lady. She takes our ideas and numbers and works them into smart plans and direction so we move forward with huge success.

Wendy Walsh is a senior producer for broadcast and live events. For ACDIS,  she’s a people manager. She’s the one who coordinates all of our ACDIS conference speakers’ contracts, itineraries, slide presentations, and PDFs, along with all of their special needs and requests. When they’re happy, you have a great conference.

Alex Datalo is our traffic specialist. No, she doesn’t stand out in traffic, she’s a logistics chick. She makes sure our stuff gets from here to there in a timely manner (like our marketing brochures from the printer to the mailhouse, and the ACDIS booth and all of the materials to our conference).


Craig and Jim in our ACDIS/HCPro warehouse.

Craig Chernov and Jim Ronan are our office services guys. They manage collateral and product inventory at the home office, ship everything from letters and small packages to huge containers of conference materials, deliver the mail you send us, and keep the facility humming so we can spend our work hours being very productive.

Mike and Marion in our cafe. Marion wanted to make herself look pretty for you all.

Mike and Marion in our cafe. Marion wanted to make herself look pretty for you all.

Mike Calabro is a relationship manager. He helps bring all those great vendors and sponsors to the conference, and is the mystery man behind that voice you hear but can’t understand in the exhibit hall  (because of the crummy acoustics).

Marion Boudreault is a customer service representative. She handles your calls with cool confidence, processes orders and payments, clears up problems, offers sage advice, and does it all while being lovely, even without fresh lipstick.


These three help with a number of ACDIS-related products.

These three help with a number of ACDIS-related products.

Mike Mirabello (top) and Steve Dinis (right front) are two of our production specialists. They design and layout all the materials for our broadcast and live events as well as all our annual conference materials. They turn conference speakers’ presentations into your workbooks and slide presentations. They also design and produce our ACDIS books and newsletters. Along with a group of very talented designers, they add the color and graphical pizzazz to the words and in short, make everything our products and collateral look fabulous.

Jess Carbone is our media specialist who has one of the most important jobs associated with the annual conference. She’s in charge of the badge printing process, and bats pretty close to 100%. Not only does she print ‘em, she alphabetizes ‘em, stuffs ‘em into plastic holders, and sorts ‘em into shipping cases. There are always a few folks who forgot to give us a credential, or whose handwriting we interpret into a misspelling (we fix these on site). We love Jess and no one here wants this job.  She is also in charge of the video production for our online boot camps.  After a few years of filming many takes, we’re sure that she could write a compliant query and help maximize reimbursement.

Kathy just loves the Red Sox.

Kathy just loves the Red Sox.

Kathy Wilson is our conference goddess. She coordinates every single event detail with the hotels, convention centers, caterers, moving companies, security, electricians, carpenters, carpet installers, and the other myriad professionals that it takes to make a great conference. Kathy can make anything happen and we all bow to her greatness. She wasn’t available for a photo so we’re identifying her with Red Sox.

Those are a few of the people on our team, who help us do what we do. I hope you enjoyed meeting them.