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Brian Murphy

Brian Murphy, CPC, is director of the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS). Brian is also an executive editor in the revenue cycle division of ACDIS’ parent company HCPro, Inc.

Celebrate National Nurses Week: Free webinar

Florence Nightengale says Happy National Nursing Week!

Florence Nightengale says Happy National Nursing Week!

National Nurses Week is celebrated annually from May 6, also known as National Nurses Day, through May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing. This year’s theme is “Nurses Leading the Way,” a theme ACDIS can certainly support. So many of our own members hail from nursing backgrounds, and so many of you lead the way to ensure that appropriate clinical information gets included in the medical record. You “lead the way” in ensuring physicians understand how their documentation gets coded. You “lead the way” in helping coders get the information they need. You “lead the way” in ensuring that accurate data leads to appropriate care outcomes.

As the American Nurses Association states on its website, “every day, nurses step forward embracing new technologies, resolving emerging issues, and accepting ever-changing roles in their profession. They lead the way for their patients, colleagues, organizations, and the healthcare industry as a whole.” We wholeheartedly endorse this statement and embrace it as representative of our own members as well, regardless of whether they hail from nursing or coding backgrounds.

Although we converge on Vegas this week for our own education and networking conference we pause for a moment to recognize Nurses Week and the underlying reason for a professional career in healthcare–caring for one another.

If you are not able to join us for the 7th Annual Conference, consider listening in to the AHA’s free webinar “Transforming Health Care Through Nursing Leadership,” on Wednesday, May 7, at 1 p.m. Eastern. Healthcare is constantly changing and evolving. Today, more than ever, nurses are stepping out of their comfort zones and becoming active contributors and innovators in the healthcare system. As CDI professionals you know that to be just as true for you as it is for nursing professionals. Celebrate your endeavors and support the nurses around you this week.

Conference countdown: Pre-con starts four days!

Conference ad_ET311437_300x250There’s only four days left until the start of the pre-conference events and six days until the Seventh Annual ACDIS Conference! Our office is buzzing with excitement as we finalize all the last minute details and a number of our staff head out to Vegas tomorrow and over the weekend to start the preparations.

Since this is our biggest conference yet, I thought I’d do a little ACDIS Conference by the numbers to demonstrate how much we’ve grown.

  • Number of attendees: 1st National Conference 385; 7th Annual Conference 1,200
  • Number of exhibitors: 1st National Conference 4; 7th Annual Conference 40
  • Number of sessions: 1st National Conference 12; 7th Annual Conference 35
  • Number of speakers: 1st National Conference 12; 7th Annual Conference 46

Not only does this year’s conference promise to be the biggest yet, it also is shaping up to be the best. We know you will return to your facilities energized and motivated to implement all the great ideas you will learn while inside the conference halls.

We’ve grown a lot over the past six years. Such growth is due, in large part, to the tremendous growth of the CDI profession. We thank all of you who work so diligently every day to do the very best job you can, striving every day to stay abreast of the latest developments in the industry and to learn the best techniques to improve your record reviews. We hope you make it out to Vegas to learn, and have some fun.

We are proud of ACDIS’ growth and we are so very proud of your continued growth alongside us.

If you happen to be on social media please join us on Twitter @ACDIS and post photos of yourself with your CDI teammates or catch me in the hall and we’ll take a shot together. We also encourage you to post any fascinating tidbits or take-a ways to our Facebook or LinkedIn pages so others may benefit from the great information by proxy and continue the conversation.

See you #ACDIS2014 in #Vegasbaby!

Take it from the King: ACDIS conference has much to offer

ACDIS Director Brian Murphy poses with Elvis during last year's conference in Nashville. Word on the street is he might don an Elvis costume at some point during this year's show in Vegas!

ACDIS Director Brian Murphy poses with Elvis during last year’s conference in Nashville. Word on the street is he might don an Elvis costume at some point during this year’s show in Vegas!

“Man, I really like Vegas.” ~Elvis Presley

After the big news about the ICD-10 delay, you may be wondering what it means for the 7th Annual ACDIS Conference. Perhaps you may even be debating whether it’s still worth coming to Vegas at all.

If so, I urge you to think again. As Elvis (patron saint of Las Vegas) might have said, “We can’t build our dreams on suspicious minds.”

CDI remains critically important, regardless of the code set being used. You’re still faced with difficult clinical discussions with your physicians, interrogating the record for a host of reasons—those related to code set and those regarding how the codes relate to so many quality improvement, healthcare research, and reimbursement reform efforts.

ACDIS continues to be the only association for CDI specialists—focused on the variety of ways documentation improvement efforts help address these concerns.

This year’s conference includes sessions such as “SOI/ROM Queries: Why is that “Healthy” Patient Dead in the Bed?” Where you’ll learn how to improve your quality metrics, along with “Integrating Quality into Your CDI Program: The Case for All Payer Review.”

To get physicians on board, we’re offering sessions like “Physician Partners for CDI: Strategies for Goal Alignment,” a case study of Novant Health’s successful techniques for engaging physicians. In “Changing Medical Culture and Influencing New Ideas: CDI for Medical Students” you can join the Mayo Clinic CDI team for a presentation on how it partnered with its medical school to create a CDI training program.

On top of sessions like these, it would be a mistake to forgo the ICD-10 sessions we’re offering. You still have to be ready for the (projected) Oct. 1, 2015 compliance date, and attendees will get that information straight from one of the nation’s foremost authorities on ICD-10, Nelly Leon-Chisen of Coding Clinic.

As of today we have our largest ever turnout with more than 950 attendees already registered. What better way is there to learn than from your peers? As always, ACDIS remains the go-to event for dedicated CDI networking.

Despite our large numbers, Vegas is a very big place and Bally’s Hotel still has vacancy. We’d love to have you out to enjoy our first-ever pre-conference cocktail reception on Tuesday evening, May 6, where we’ll be presenting the 2014 CDI Professional of the Year awards and starting out the conference in style.

To close with one final quote from the King: “The joint is always crowded, but you still can find some room.”

What to do about the ICD-10 delay: Stay the course, target physician documentation

Join ACDIS. Get the Journal. Get informed.

Dear ACDIS Member,

As you doubt have heard this week the Senate and House of Representatives approved–and the President signed–H.R. 4302 (“Protecting Access to Medicare”).

So, it’s now official: ICD-10 will be delayed at least another year.

The actual language in the bill does not include a new enforcement date, but says “no earlier” than October 1, 2015.

H.R. 4302 primarily addresses Medicare payments to physicians and the Sustainable Growth Rate. But buried in it is section 212, a seven line section that calls for a delay in implementation of the ICD-10 code set until October 1, 2015. The actual language reads as follows:

The Secretary of Health and Human Services may not, prior to October 1, 2015, adopt ICD–10 code sets as the standard for code sets under section 1173(c) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d–2(c)) and section 162.1002 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations.

Some see a silver lining in the delay, as it means another year to prepare physicians, coding staff, and CDI for ICD-10.

But the delay also creates considerable turmoil. Staff will need to be retrained or take refresher courses. Implementation and staffing plans will be put on hold. CMS estimates that a one year delay could cost between $1 billion to $6.6 billion, according a statement from AHIMA officials. In addition, credibility with physicians will be strained.

The best advice we at ACDIS can offer is to stay the course, and do your job to the best of your ability. Since you are clarifying diagnoses and procedures to their highest level of specificity, and ensuring that all diagnoses/procedures are supported by clinical indicators, the codes will take care of themselves, regardless of whether they are ICD-9 or ICD-10. Continue educating providers on the importance of complete and specific documentation in the health record.

In short, try not to be discouraged, and know your job as CDI specialists remains as important as ever.

We at ACDIS are committed to providing you with the best and only dedicated support network for CDI, regardless of what the future holds. And we will continue to provide you with the latest news and guidance on ICD-10, both on the ACDIS website and at our annual conference in May.

Join me and a host of fellow healthcare industry leaders including Rhonda Buckholtz from the AAPC, Margarita Valdez from AHIMA, Robert Tennant from the MGMA, Jim Daley of WEDI among others as we discuss the implications on next week’s Talk Ten Tuesday April 8.

Take care,

Brian Murphy, CPC
Director, ACDIS

ACDIS: Keep on clarifying despite ICD-10 implementation delay

Keep on going!

Keep on going!

At roughly 6:30 p.m. last night, Monday, March 31, the U.S. Senate voted to approve a bill to temporarily “fix” the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR). However, tucked into the bill was one sentence that could cost the healthcare industry upwards of $6 billion and shake a number of healthcare improvement initiatives to their core:

The Secretary of Health and Human Services may not, prior to October 1, 2015, adopt ICD–10 code sets  as the standard for code sets under section 1173(c) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d–2(c)) and section 162.1002 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations.

What this means is that, barring a Presidential veto of the bill, ICD-10 will be delayed until at least Oct. 1, 2015

The delay of ICD-10 impacts much more than just coded medical bills, but also quality, population health, and other programs that expected to start using ICD-10 codes in October. The extent of the logistical challenges and costs associated with “dialing back” to ICD-9-CM are not yet fully understood but are expected to be extensive, according to a statement from AHIMA officials in the Journal of AHIMA.

Although many pointed to the AMA—a longtime opponent of ICD-10 implementation—as leading the charge to include the delay language, AMA President Ardis Dee Hoven, MD, said in a statement that the Association is “deeply disappointed by the Senate’s decision to enact a 17th patch to fix the flawed Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula. Congress has spent more taxpayer money on temporary patches than it would cost to solve the problem for good.”

The SGR is the CMS’ way to control costs for physician services. It attempts to cap the yearly increase in expense per beneficiary to less than the growth of the GDP, but nearly every year Congress votes to negate the measure in bills typically dubbed the “doc fix.”

This year, physicians were expecting a 24% reduction in Medicare payments at the turn of the year, but lawmakers extended the previous fix until March 31, according to Kaiser Health News.

The ICD-10 language was not included in an earlier version of the bill, according to the ICD-10 Trainer Blog.

During the vote in the House of Representatives the ICD-10 measure was not referenced but some members of Congress opposed passage of the bill as being rushed through. Later in the Senate a new bill without the ICD-10 measure was introduced but opposed.

The ACDIS advisory board recommends CDI professionals stay the course, clarify diagnoses and procedures to their highest level of specificity, and ensure that all diagnoses/procedures are supported by clinical indicators. When we do this, the codes should take care of themselves, regardless of whether they are ICD-9 or ICD-10.

News: Congress sneaks ICD-10 delay language into SGR bill

Dear ACDIS members and CDI professionals,

A new bill introduced in the House and Senate includes a small, rather buried section that would delay implementation of ICD-10 for another year, to Oct. 1, 2015. The main focus of the bill is a fix to the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), which is necessary. This small provision of the bill is not.

The bill is expected to go to the House floor tomorrow, March 27, for a vote. In accordance with the American Health Information Management Association (AHIMA), we urge our members to contact your local congressman and request removal of the ICD-10 delay provision. See the AHIMA release here, which includes a lookup tool to find the number of your local representative of Congress:

ICD-10 is necessary, and it’s coming. Further delay only hinders our ability to better capture the necessary specificity of the conditions our physicians and facilities are treating today. It also hurts the work many of our members have already done to prepare for the Oct. 2014 deadline, and undermines our credibility as CDI specialists. And there is the cost to consider: CMS estimates a one-year delay could result in additional costs of $1 billion to $6.6 billion.

Please contact your representative in Congress today and ask them to take the ICD-10 provision out of this bill. Help us spread the word and tell Congress, tell your colleagues, tell your friends why ICD-10-CM/PCS implementation is so important to the work you do every day. #NoDelay!


Brian Murphy

Director, ACDIS

CDI Education Specialist position open at ACDIS

Do you know what is expected of you? Do you have clearly communicated goals for how to grow professionally?

Looking for a new career training CDI specialists? Consider joining the ACDIS team and becoming a CDI Boot Camp instructor.

Looking for a new challenge as a CDI specialist?  Do you like mentoring others and sharing your experiences as a CDI?  Are you comfortable speaking in front of an audience?  Do you like meeting new people? Come work with the leader in CDI education.

HCPro, which fully owns the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (ACDIS), is currently seeking applicants for their CDI Education Specialist position.
The CDI Education Specialist will teach CDI Boot Camps and serve as a subject matter expert for ACDIS. Current CDI Boot Camps include CDI Basics Boot Camp and ICD-10 for CDI Boot Camp, which are both based on MS-DRG methodology. The CDI Education Specialists will also have opportunities to customize class materials for non-traditional areas, such as LTAC, HCCs, and pediatrics. The CDI Education Specialist works closely with the Director of CDI Education for HCPro and the Director of ACDIS.
The position requires between 50 to 75% travel, and you are able to work remotely. Because we specialize in education and not consulting, our instructors have greater flexibility of their schedules and know weeks to months in advance when and where they will be traveling.
The CDI Boot Camps vary in length between two and four days. Instructors typically teach three classes per month. When not traveling, the CDI Education specialist assists with CDI educational projects, such as writing or reviewing articles, newsletters, and books; blogging; speaking on webinars, and other projects.
Candidates will preferably have at least five years experience as a CDI professional. Current RN licensure or a Registered Health Information Administrator (RHIA) through AHIMA is required. Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) credential and ICD-10-CM/PCS education preferred.  Candidates must possess excellent communication skills with experience in public speaking and/or adult education. Qualified candidates should send a resume to is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer; M/F/D/V are especially encouraged to apply. HCPro is a division of BLR®, the leading compliance information provider for Human Resources, Environmental, Safety, and Employee Training professionals.

ACDIS welcomes new parent company

blr_mast_2012ACDIS’ parent company HCPro Inc., was recently acquired by Fortis Business Media, LLC, based in Brentwood, Tenn. Fortis produces a variety of books and newsletters and brings a wealth of publishing expertise to augment our existing offerings. We are excited to be working with our new colleagues and look forward to growth this new partnership offers us.

Due to this endeavor ACDIS members will experience some changes and temporary interruptions. For example, when you dial customer service or receive an invoice you may see the name “BLR” (a subdivision of Fortis) instead of the HCPro or ACDIS brand you are accustomed to. Additionally, as we transfer our servers, email, etc., we may encounter some temporary suspension or delays in service.

Starting Friday we are transitioning the server which runs our CDI Talk message board. ACDIS members will have limited access to this benefit through Monday or Tuesday of next week.

These are short-term changes and we anticipate more growth and better service in the future. We hope you will share in our excitement as we enter this new phase of our association’s growth and hope that you will bear with us as our new systems come online. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask, email ACDIS Director Brian Murphy at

2014 Advisory Board open voting begins; deadline to vote January 31!

If you are an ACDIS member please vote for four new volunteers to represent you on the Advisory Board.

If you are an ACDIS member please vote for four new volunteers to represent you on the Advisory Board.

Voting is now open for four ACDIS advisory board positions, for terms of service starting in 2014 through the end of 2016. Log on to the ACDIS website to select the four candidates you believe are the best fit for the association, and then cast your vote. You may only vote once.

The results of the election will be announced in early February.

ACDIS advisors are important, volunteer positions that help shape the direction of the association and provide leadership, expertise, and representation for the membership. The term of service is a maximum of three years.

The voting page includes the nominees’ background in CDI and information on why they are seeking election. The vote will close end of business day on Friday, January 31.

If you have any questions, please e-mail ACDIS Director Brian Murphy at

ACDIS 2013 reflections and 2014 goal setting

January is the perfect time to look forward to more CDI networking opportunities

January is the perfect time to look forward to more CDI networking opportunities.

As we close out 2013, we want to take a moment to express our gratitude to the 4,000 members of ACDIS who have made the commitment to promote the CDI profession. Year after year we have seen how the role of CDI has changed, and walked beside you as the focus of documentation improvement has shifted from reimbursement and CC/MCC capture to documentation improvement for severity of illness and risk of mortality and quality measures.

Within the past year we discussed the effect CDI efforts can have on Value Based Purchasing, medical necessity reviews by Recovery Auditors, and ICD-10-CM/PCS implementation, among other healthcare initiatives. We made a toast to our 1,500th CCDS certified professional, shared in the third-annual CDI Week festivities, and networked at our 6th annual ACDIS conference in Nashville, welcoming the largest number of attendees and exhibitors in our history. In 2013, ACDIS partnered with AHIMA to create the latest physician query practice brief, and in the fall published a position paper regarding the role of CDI specialists in electronic health record implementation and review.

The turning of the year is always a time for reflection, just as it is a time for renewal, a time for goal setting, and a time to look forward. While we have learned and accomplished much, there is so much more to be done. No doubt, most CDI programs will focus on improving documentation to comply with the needs of ICD-10-CM/PCS in the coming year. There will be increased physician education and reviews of query practices and forms. It won’t be easy.

But we know that you are up to these challenges and as a truly unique profession, we will rise to meet them together.

Happy holidays and all the best to you and yours for a wonderful, productive, accomplished 2014!

ICD-10, here we come!