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.
Last week on the blog, we provided readers with a list of fun indoor activities to keep you busy when you’re not in the conference. If hiking and adventuring are more your speed, though, the Las Vegas area offers a wide range of attractions for you as well.
Below is a list of suggested activities for the outdoor enthusiast. Enjoy!
To read our list of indoor activities, click here.
- Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area: Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, located 20 miles from Las Vegas Strip, allows visitors to hike, picnic, and view plant and animal life under 3,000-foot-high red rock formations. It’s open daily 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Learn more at http://www.redrockcanyonlv.org/.
- Valley of Fire: The Valley of Fire is a 35,000-square-mile state park, named for the magnificent red sandstone formations formed from great shifting sand dunes during the age of the dinosaurs more than 150 million years ago (Mesozoic Era). These brilliant sandstone formations can appear to be on fire when reflecting the sun’s rays. It is located in the Mojave Desert approximately 58 miles northeast of the Las Vegas. Learn more at valley-of-fire.com/.
- Boulder City: Boulder City is located about 20 miles outside Las Vegas (and on the way to the Hoover Dam). You’ll find great restaurants, shopping, and antique stores. Learn more at bcnv.com.
- Hoover Dam: No trip to the area is complete without a stop at the Hoover Dam. The damn holds back the waters of Lake Mead and straddles the border between Nevada and Arizona. You can take a bus tour from the Strip. Learn more at vegas.com/attractions/near-las-vegas/hoover-dam/.
- Ghost towns: There is a way to step back into the Silver State’s astonishing past. Dotting the vast landscape of Nevada are countless ghost towns, and while indecipherable ruins and tumbleweeds mark some, others are surprisingly intact. Either way, these remarkable places are portals into a Nevada of old and certainly worth a wander. Learn more at lvlg.com/lasvegas/attracts/ghstwns.htm.
Q: I’m having problems determining the correct coding guidelines for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and pneumonia. Have the guidelines changed regarding COPD and pneumonia? Do you now have to code the pneumonia as a COPD with a lower respiratory infection?
A: Yes, the AHA’s Coding Clinic for ICD 10-CM/PCS, Third Quarter 2016, discusses an instruction note found at code J44.0, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute lower respiratory infection requires that the COPD be coded first, followed by a code for the lower respiratory infection. This means that the lower respiratory infection cannot be used as the principal diagnosis. We would assign code J44.0 (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute lower respiratory infection) as the principal diagnosis, followed by an additional code to identify the lower respiratory infection.
If the patient has an acute exacerbation of COPD and pneumonia, we would assign both codes J44.0 (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute lower respiratory infection) and code J44.1 (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with acute exacerbation). Per the instructions, either code may be sequenced first and it should be based on the circumstances of the admission, followed by a code to identify the infection, such as code J18.9 (pneumonia, unspecified organism).
CDI specialists and/or the coding staff need to clarify the type of infection to ensure the proper code assignment. There does seem to be some concerns regarding classifications of lower respiratory infection. Per the Coding Clinic, acute bronchitis and pneumonia are both included in code J44.0 (lower respiratory infections). Influenza, on the other hand, is not included in code J44.0 because it is considered both an upper and lower respiratory infection.
Additionally, the type of pneumonia needs to be clarified. For example, aspiration pneumonia (code J69) is not classified as a lower respiratory infection, but as a lung disease due to the external agents. To assign the appropriate code in the case of aspiration pneumonia, we would need to know the external agent, i.e. milk versus vomit.
Editor’s Note: Sharme Brodie, RN, CCDS, CDI education specialist and CDI Boot Camp instructor for HCPro in Middleton, Massachusetts, answered this question. For information, contact her at email@example.com. For information regarding CDI Boot Camps offered by HCPro, visit www.hcprobootcamps.com/courses/10040/overview.
Physician support in the CDI decision-making process from the CDI program’s inception helps physicians see beyond the immediate obligation of documentation to the greater good such documentation provides.
Physicians, as a group, tend to have similar personality traits. For example, physicians are:
- Educated, so give them definitions
- Scientists, so give them data
- Proud, so illustrate how they rate against their peers
- Results oriented, so give them a goal
Many argue that the best form of physician education is physician involvement. The earlier physicians get involved in CDI development, the greater their investment becomes. At the CDI program’s inception, medical staff leadership or the facility’s chief medical officer (CMO) typically join the CDI steering committee to set overall goals from the program and expectations for physician response, involvement, and training. Physician investment in CDI at the highest levels trickles down through the physician ranks and encourages the involvement of the entire medical staff in day-to-day documentation improvement activities.
Many programs hire a physician advisor to act as a mediator between medical staff and CDI professionals. If your program has a physician advisor, tap into his or her experience. He or she often plays an important role in identifying CDI targets and providing both group and one-on-one education.
Editor’s note: This excerpt was taken from The Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialist’s Complete Training Guide by Laurie L. Prescott, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDIP.
Editor’s Note: Timothy Brundage, MD, CCDS, medical director of Brundage Medical Group, LLC, in Redington Beach, Florida, presented on the January 11, 2017, installment of ACDIS Radio. The title of the program was “Denials and effective physician communication.” This Q&A was developed from conversations during that session. Should you have any questions regarding the material, please reach out to Brundage at DrBrundage@gmail.com.
Q: Have you encountered denials based on “Late Entry” where CDI query response was received after discharge?
A: This is a technique by the auditor to deny a reasonable diagnosis. The CDI team can query the physician up to the time of the final coding. Getting the query response and therefore clarification of the documentation and/or diagnosis in the official medical record allows the diagnosis to be coded and included in the final coded record. This should be accomplished no later than 30 days post-discharge.
Q: There are many primary care physicians who round in hospitals and flat out say that they don’t care about CDI, they’re not interested, or they refuse to hear education. How do we get through to them?
A: Leverage the influence of your physician advisor and/or chief medical officer to encourage them and share the value of CDI efforts with the rest of the medical staff. This helps both the facility and the physicians with value based care, length of stay (LOS) metrics, cost per case, case mix index, as well as CC/MCC capture and DRG shifts. Improving these aspects, in turn, help the physician in optimizing severity of illness (SOI) and risk of mortality (ROM) metrics. CDI also helps with the various measures included in CMS’ value based purchasing. Physicians who have managed Medicare patients (we all do at this point), benefit from record reviews focused on specificity related to the capture of diagnoses for hierarchical condition categories(HCC) as well.
Q: Can the CDI team do anything to help prevent short-stay denials?
A: Ask the medical director to review the chart of the denied claim to determine if the medical necessity of inpatient admission was met. If the medical director or CDI physician advisor believes medical necessity was met, have him or her reach out to the auditor over the phone for a peer-to-peer conversation before drafting an appeal letter. We get 89% of soft denials approved at the peer-to-peer level, but this number falls off dramatically if you allow these to become full denials that require an appeal letter. Your physician advisor can call and get these overturned with a collegial conversation much easier than a letter can.
Q: Do you have any recommendations on appealing a denied diagnosis due to clinical indicators, but in the discharge summary it states “possible” or “probable” and treatment was the focus of diagnosis?
A: Review for the clinical criteria to support the diagnosis documented in the medical record. Remember the CMS 72-hour payment window allows 72 hours of outpatient data to support your inpatient diagnosis. For example, the emergency department (ED) (an outpatient setting) documentation may support the inpatient diagnosis made at the time of admission. Fight denials of conditions that were present in the ED, but improved at the time of admission. These are valid diagnoses according to the CMS 72-hour payment window.
In addition, review the record to see if the following conditions for a secondary diagnosis were met:
- Clinically evaluated
- Therapeutically treated
- Necessitated a diagnostic test or procedure
- Increased length of stay (LOS)
- Increased nursing care or monitoring
If you’ve ever read one of our Position Papers, White Papers, a Note from the Board in our bi-monthly CDI Journal, or listened to an ACDIS Quarterly Conference call, then you know what a crucial role the ACDIS advisory board plays in the leadership of our association.
That’s why we need you, our ACDIS members, to take a few minutes out of your day for a very important duty: Voting for our next group of board members.
ACDIS advisory board members serve a voluntary, three-year term. Members of the board write articles, answer member questions, review conference materials, set direction for our CDI Practice Guidelines committee, and more.
Read more about our board members and their responsibilities on the ACDIS website by clicking here.
This year, seven finalists have stepped up to run and volunteer their time and energy. They deserve to have our members make an informed choice and cast their votes. Out of the seven nominees, the four with the most votes will be elected by popular vote of the ACDIS membership, for terms effective April 2017 through April 2020.
This vote by our membership is an important responsibility and we hope you take a few minutes to fulfill it.
View our voting page (open to ACDIS members only) here.
How to vote
- First, log onto the website with your username and password. You must be an ACDIS member in good standing. If you have forgotten your username/password, please write or call our customer service team: firstname.lastname@example.org, or 1-800-650-6787.
- Go to our voting page by clicking here.
- Read through the candidates’ bios/qualifications and reasons they are running, and then write down your top four votes.
- Click the yellow “vote” button.
- Our voting tool requires you to rank the candidates. Your top choice should be ranked number one, your second choice number two, etc. on down through number seven. If you’d like, you can just rank your top four candidates.
- Click the gray “vote” button. It will ask you to you review your choices.
- Once you are satisfied, click “confirm” and you are done. Our website only allows you to vote once.
You have two weeks to cast your ballot; voting opens today, Thursday, March 16, and closes end of day Friday, March 31.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter!
Yes, the ACDIS 2017 Conference is sure to keep you busy, provide valuable education, and great networking opportunities, but make sure you leave some time to enjoy the Las Vegas area.
When you first think of a week in Las Vegas, you likely think of slot machines, shows, and parties. But, a number of alternative activities in the area are real crowd pleasers, too. Below is a list of some excellent museums and indoor attractions in the Vegas area.
Make sure to check back on the blog next week for some outdoor activities, as well
- Neon Museum: The Neon Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, studying, and exhibiting iconic Las Vegas signs for educational, historic, arts and cultural enrichment. The Neon Museum campus includes the outdoor exhibition space known as the Neon Boneyard. Learn more at neonmuseum.org.
- The Mob Museum: The Mob Museum presents a bold and authentic view of organized crime’s effect on Las Vegas history, as well as its unique imprint on America. It presents real stories and actual events of mob history via interactive and engaging exhibits that reveal all sides of the story about the role of organized crime in the U.S. Learn more at themobmuseum.org.
- The Linq and the High Roller: The Linq is a hotel and outdoor shopping district featuring a curated array of unique shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment experiences, anchored by the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation Ferris wheel. Learn more at https://www.caesars.com/linq.
- The National Atomic Testing Museum: The National Atomic Testing Museum is a science, history, and educational museum focused on the story of America’s nuclear weapons testing program at the Nevada Test site. Located only 1.7 miles from the strip, it’s a quick trip to this history focused museum. Learn more at http://nationalatomictestingmuseum.org/.
- Madame Tussauds: No list of Vegas activities would be complete without a reference to Madame Tussauds. It is one of the most famous wax museums in the country for good reason. It’s located less than a mile from the strip and there is a public transport bus that will take you straight there if you want. Learn more at https://www.madametussauds.com/las-vegas/en/.
Editor’s Note: Over the coming weeks, we’ll take some time to introduce members to a few of this year’s ACDIS conference speakers. The conference takes place May 9-12, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Today, we talked with Cheryl M. Manchenton, RN, BSN, CCDS, senior inpatient consultant/project manager with 3M Health Information Systems, overseeing CDI programs, who will present “Anatomy of an Operative Note: A CSI Analysis of Operative Notes Gone Bad.” Manchenton specializes in workflow design, program management, quality metrics, and performance. She is responsible for the 3M quality services and quality services training materials and hosts the 3M CDI Management Roundtable. Manchenton is a guest for ACDIS Radio on the March 22 at 11:30 a.m. EST. She will be providing a brief preview of her conference presentation that you won’t want to miss! To register for ACDIS Radio, click here.
Q: What’s the biggest challenge you encountered in your experience with surgical CDI programs?
A: The biggest challenge is lack of timely operative notes or detailed daily progress notes. In other words, minimal documentation by surgeons including a comprehensive list of chronic conditions.
Q: What are three things attendees can expect from your session?
A: Our session will be at minimum entertaining. Attendees can expect us to share very common pitfalls with operative note templates, strategies for collaborating to improve and results of effective collaboration.
Q: In what ways does your session challenge CDI professionals to think outside the box?
A: Instead of complaining about who’s fault something is with poor documentation, coding or quality metrics, I hope our session will show attendees some creative ways to actually improve.
Q: What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?
Q: Fun question: What is your favorite animal and why?
A: I love otters. They work hard but play hard too. They know how to make work fun.
By Jackie Birmingham, RN, BSN, MS, CMAC
Editor’s note: For more information, see Discharge Planning Guide: Tools for Compliance, Fourth Edition, by Jackie Birmingham, RN, BSN, MS, CMAC. This excerpt originally appeared in Revenue Cycle Advisor, here.
Whether writing a note, completing a flow sheet, or entering information in an electronic record, a discharge planner is capturing data: facts related to actions, reactions, and decisions. For the purposes of this example, a discharge planner is writing the story about the planning that occurs to prepare for a patient’s transition to the next level of care.
Information entered into the medical record describes the final discharge plan for the patient. Organizations implement documentation policies to guide discharge planners regarding what the medical record must include.
The Conditions of Participation (CoPs) require documentation of the assessment or evaluation of a patient’s discharge planning needs. CDI specialists can use the following CoPs (c) Standard (c) to ensure the minimum evaluation topics are documented including
- “Admitting diagnosis or reason for registration;
- Relevant comorbidities and past medical and surgical history;
- Anticipated ongoing care needs post-discharge;
- Readmission risk;
- Relevant psychosocial history;
- Communication needs, including language barriers, diminished eyesight and hearing, and self-reported literacy of the patient, patient’s representative or caregiver/support person(s), as applicable;
- Patient’s access to non-health care services and community-based care providers; and
- Patient’s goals and treatment preferences”
The list above reflects the minimum standards. Discharge planners should use this list as a tool to audit a sample of patient charts to determine whether their hospital meets these minimum requirements. After completing an audit, compare the findings to the facility’s documentation policy to determine whether it addresses all necessary elements. Use this activity as an opportunity to identify potential quality improvement initiatives. Although this list aims to aid in assisting in patient discharge needs, CDI specialists can look to these notes to identify additional documentation improvement opportunities or for evidence supporting the need for a physician query. Additionally, CDI specialists should be aware of the wide variety of documentation required throughout the patient’s care, what each documentation requirement’s purpose may be, and the parties responsible for ensuring the accuracy of those documents.
By Jocelyn E. Murray, RN, CCDS
There’s no question of the financial sustenance facility case mix index (CMI) provides. An elevated CMI level indicates an increased severity (or acuity weight) in surgical and life sustaining levels of medical care. Facility budgets are formed around the CMI, it is the acuity weight representing the average facility case and therefore reflects upon reimbursement. It makes perfect sense that this marker is a strong point of reference in the financial revenue department and a CFO focus. CMS.gov gives the following description of the CMI: the average DRG weight relative weight calculated by summing the DRG weights for all Medicare discharges and dividing by the number of discharges.
We know our financial leaders focus on the CMI on an ongoing basis, but is it a true indicator of our CDI operational assessment and program productivity?
In my opinion, the CMI is a good tool to compare area hospital performance at a similar acuity level for medical and surgical care. We know a comparable facility with a much lower CMI can be a direct reflection on missed documentation and lower acuity weighted diagnostic codes. CDI intervention then consists of a provider education plan to improve documentation and capture the severity. Pre-billed audits ensure the acuity is also captured in final coding. Both are standard elements of the CDI process and program interventions.
It can also be a useful tool to help identify how outpatient CDI focus programs in the ED, short-stay surgery, and observation practice levels help ensure CMI accuracy. The DRG for a patient admission that does not meet medical necessity, indicates the patient’s care could have been provided on an outpatient basis. It could also have a critical impact on the CMI.
The lower weight CMI, as reflected by the DRG in this case, is tossed into the bucket as part of the calculated averaged acuity level for the site. One or two occurrences of low CMI weighted inpatient cases may not be a concern, but a handful of cases would certainly have a detrimental overall effect.
In my first years of CDI program implementation, the facility had a significant drop in the CMI over a couple of months during the summer. I dug into the metric further and discovered the top two acuity case surgeons in both neuro and orthopedic were away on vacation. A significant drop in surgeries occurred, and a small number of high-acuity procedure cases were performed and made available in the in that period’s calculation. Of course, the surgeon’s absence had nothing to do with our CDI program productivity efforts. And yet, the CMI drop was brought to my attention by the chief financial officer (CFO) who questioned the cause as CDI productivity. Together, we reviewed my identified findings and took the opportunity to bring forward critical information to the leadership team. The CMI changes had no reflection on the CDI program impact in the absence of surgical caseloads available during that time period.
CDI programs (CDI) are working at more advanced levels in 2017 and need to focus on understanding how their CMI metrics are effected and how the program responds. One key performance of the CDIP is identification of the root cause with any metric change. Only then can you can establish a responsive goal and develop an individualized action plan for intervention.
In my case, a report identified the absence of two key surgeons and the effects of their absence on revenue for the facility. It was then up to the executive leadership and chief medical staff to strategize on how to prepare, plan, and focus actions for this type of revenue impact in the future.
Editor’s Note: Murray is a senior CDI consultant, HIM services, at ComforceHealth. Her subject matter expertise includes consultative CDI services, training and education, and implementation of new programs. She has expertise both in program assessment and enhancement to improve the quality, productivity, and effectiveness of CDI programs within an organization. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of ACDIS or its Advisory Board. Contact her at email@example.com.
Which credential/certification/licensure makes for the best CDI specialist? RN? RHIA? MD?
If you answered all of the above—or none of the above—you’re on the right track, according to a new Position Paper written by the ACDIS Advisory Board published on the ACDIS website.
To be blunt, no licensure or credential can identify whether someone will succeed as a CDI specialist. Not even ACDIS’ own Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) certification can guarantee that. We do, however, require anyone who sits for the CCDS exam to have two years of experience as a CDI specialist, so we feel good about the competency of our CCDS-credentialed professionals. CCDS holders must understand the basic core competencies and have demonstrated their skills in the field already.
But is that person a guaranteed fit with your culture?
Is that person dependent on an encoder or other computer assisted coding/natural language processing (CAC/NLP) tool that your hospital does not have?
There are many other factors that make up a good CDI specialist. As the new Position Paper explains, these factors include:
- Effective verbal and written communication
- Self-directed with an ability to work independently to complete the work at hand
- The ability to think critically
- A commitment to lifelong learning
The new Position Paper also notes that a strong clinical foundation is a must for any CDI specialist, and hiring an RN, MD, or an RHIA with strong clinical acumen will certainly fulfill that requirement. But, it’s no guarantee of success as the paper states:
“Credentials do not guarantee whether one will succeed as a CDI professional. Credentials merely identify the body of knowledge in which that person was originally trained. Prior bodies of knowledge certainly assist one’s success, and credentials and/or licensure provide identification of one’s stated profession and their level of education or achievement, but they do not ensure CDI competence. There is a number of necessary skills that cannot be ensured or captured by a credential.
It always comes down to the person. Why should CDI be any different?
If you’re wondering whether a Position Paper represents ACDIS’ official stance on an issue, you can find the answer here. Our recently published “Hierarchy of Authority” explains the order of significance of our published articles. ACDIS Positon Papers are peer-reviewed and represent the consensus opinion of the advisory board. We hope you find “ACDIS’ ‘Hierarchy of Authority’ of published articles” helpful as you navigate our website.