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Guest post: 2018 ICD-10 codes—when the heart needs a helping hand

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Shannon E. McCall, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPC, CPC-I, CEMC, CRC, CCDS

by Shannon E. McCall, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPC, CPC-I, CEMC, CRC, CCDS

Congestive heart failure (CHF) is a commonly diagnosed condition where the ventricles or the lower chambers of the heart do not work effectively. The heart serves as a pump to get blood in and then out of the heart to circulate to the rest of the body. When any type of pump doesn’t work efficiently backups can occur.

The most common form of CHF is left ventricular failure, however left-sided failure can also lead to right ventricular failure as a ripple effect. There are two common types of CHF, one whereby the ventricle cannot contract normally, known as systolic heart failure, and one where the ventricle cannot relax normally due to stiffness, known as diastolic failure. Some patients may have a combination of both systolic and diastolic failure.

The causes of heart failure include hypertension, coronary artery disease, and valvular diseases, as well as cardiomyopathies. [more]

Q&A: Coding chronic kidney disease, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus

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Laurie L. Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CDIP, answered this question

Q: Let’s say a provider documented chronic kidney disease (CKD), 2/2 hypertension (HTN), and diabetes mellitus (DM), and the stage of CKD was not specified, but lab results show patient was in stage 2. Could I assign codes for CKD, stage unspecified, Hypertensive CKD w/ stage 1-4, and Type II DM. Do I need to assign a separate code for HTN?

A: Let’s break down the documentation.

CKD secondary to HTN and DM: With this documentation, we have two combination codes to assign—hypertensive CKD and diabetic CKD. We would also assign a code to reflect the stage of the CKD.

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Behind the scenes at ACDIS: E-learning producer brings back industry-leading tips

Editor’s note: From time to time, we like to take a moment to share a behind-the-scenes look at what the ACDIS and broader HCPro team has been working on. Today, we wanted to shed some light on one of our e-learning producers, Amanda Southworth. Amanda recently attended the Association of Talent Development International Conference and Exposition (ADT) in Atlanta and brought back a number of important lessons about education, training, and e-learning. To see the complete list of HCPro’s e-learning opportunities, click here.

I recently had the privilege of attending the ADT, a massive four-day educational and networking event that included 10,000 learning and development professionals from all over the world. While there, I learned about the latest trends in the training world as well as the specific struggles, challenges, and successes specifically related to providing continuing education to those working in the healthcare field.

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Symposium Speaker Highlight: McCall demystifies outpatient coding

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Shannon McCall, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPC-I, CCDS

Editor’s note: As we did with the 10th annual ACDIS conference in May, we’ll take some time leading up to the ACDIS Symposium: Outpatient CDI to chat with a few of the speakers. The event takes place September 18-19 at the Hilton Oak Brook Resort & Conference Center in Oak Brook, Illinois. Today, we talked with Shannon McCall, RHIA, CCS, CCS-P, CPC-I, CCDS, the director of coding and HIM at HCPro in Middleton, Massachusetts. She manages the instructors of the Certified Coder Boot Camps and has extensive experience with coding for both physician and hospital services. She will be presenting “The Ins and Outs: Inpatient and Outpatient Coding” on Day 1 of the Symposium.

Q: There are so many differences between inpatient and outpatient coding! What would you say is the most difficult one(s) for those moving from the inpatient CDI world to wrap their minds around? (e.g., that words like probable, likely, suspected don’t count toward a diagnosis, that outpatient facilities not only use ICD-10 but also CP[SM] T, the different code sets each have their own set of guidelines and rules governing use?)

A: Documentation for outpatient encounters is much briefer than documentation for an inpatient admission so the application of the guidelines of only assigning codes for relevant diagnoses is important. Providers typically lack the documentation in their notes to clearly identify chronic conditions being clinically relevant in their decision making process. Since risk adjustment is based on diagnosis coding, the differences in procedure coding has no bearing.  [more]

Summer Reading: Stepping out on your own

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Laurie L. Prescott, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDIP

by Laurie L. Prescott, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDIP

‘Flying solo’

After a few trial runs, new CDI specialists should be given the opportunity to review records on their own. Before composing any queries during this initial stage, the manager or mentor should review a draft of the query proposed and provide feedback to identify any additional opportunities and compliance concerns, as well as to save the fledgling staff member from any potential physician ire due to a misplaced query.

Such feedback should reinforce concrete rules of the CDI road and should be supported by official rational from governing bodies such as AHA Coding Clinic for ICD-10-CM/PCS, Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, ACDIS/AHIMA Guidelines for Achieving a Compliant Query Practice, or in-house policies and procedures.  Of course, mentors and managers should offer their expert opinions and tips on how to practice effectively, as well. This feedback should also offer the new staff member an opportunity to voice questions and concerns, and accelerate the learning process. This step in the process can continue until the new staff member and the preceptor agree that the new CDI specialist is functioning well independently and is comfortable “flying solo.”

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TBT: Six steps to help you join the CDI ranks

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on the ACDIS website in November 2015. To read the original article, click here.

There is a lot of discussion about how to be a good CDI specialist, but as the profession grows and facilities look to hire new CDI team members, many more people are looking to get into the field.

A few months ago, we received an email asking us what we would recommend to CDI hopefuls. After combing through our resources, consulting with our Boot Camp instructors and Advisory Board members, and interviewing working CDI specialists, here are six simple steps to help you set your feet on the CDI career path.

1. Learn as much as you can

When Shiloh A. Williams, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDI specialist (now CDI program manager) at El Centro Regional Medical Center in Holtville, California, initially applied for a CDI position, she knew nothing about CDI, coding, or the revenue cycle. She did a Google search before her interview and read up on DRGs, codes, and common diagnoses. Her research, coupled with her prior nursing experience and clinical knowledge, won her the position.

“I scoured the ACDIS website for information, ideas, and best practices,” Williams says. “Now that I’m doing the job, I am constantly turning to ACDIS resources for staffing and department metrics.”

Regardless of the field or position, any candidate who learns as much as possible about the role and company prior to sitting for an interview will have a distinct advantage. You may not have hands-on experience as a CDI specialist, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn as much as possible about the field.

Review the materials on the ACDIS website—much of it is free—and take lots of notes. Read the ACDIS Blog and the CDI Strategies e-newsletter for timely tips and news updates. The ACDIS Helpful Resources page and ACDIS Radio are also fantastic free options to learn about the field and the industry.

It’s also a good idea to look through CDI job postings to see what facilities are looking for in terms of knowledge and experience. Some noteworthy topics to research include:

  • DRG basics
  • ICD-10 codes
  • How to read a medical record and research a chart
  • Hospital quality initiatives

2. Attend a local chapter meeting

If you have a local chapter in your area, call or email the leadership and ask if you can attend a meeting. This is a great opportunity to network with local CDI specialists, learn about the job from working professionals, and discuss timely topics and issues relevant to the field.

Networking may also lead to potential mentorship and job shadow opportunities that you wouldn’t have otherwise. Williams relied heavily on her mentors early in her CDI career.

“I was able to work alongside Marion Kruse, a well-known clinical documentation improvement and Medicare expert,” she says. “My passion for my work was fueled by her knowledge and expertise.”

Check the Local Chapter page on the ACDIS website for more information and meeting schedules.

3. Job shadow CDI staff

If you have a CDI program at your facility, ask the program staff if you can shadow them for a day to learn more about the work they do.

If your facility doesn’t have a CDI program, reach out to neighboring hospitals and see if their program would host you for a morning or afternoon.

Job shadowing is one of the most important things a prospective CDI specialist should do before applying for a job in the field, says Mark LeBlanc, RN, MBA, CCDS, director of CDI services at the Wilshire Group, and former ACDIS Advisory Board member.

“It’s a great opportunity to watch a CDI specialist work, ask questions, and see the work in action,” he says.

“It’s also a chance to see how you have to interact with staff on the floor. You need to be outgoing, and you have to be able to speak to all different levels of professionals, from providers to coders, so you can get things done.”

Also take advantage of other networking opportunities, such as reaching out to members of the ACDIS Advisory Board. “The board would definitely be willing to spend a few minutes with someone to talk about CDI,” LeBlanc says.

4. Analyze your skills

Typically, the most important attributes for a top-notch CDI specialist are extensive clinical knowledge and awareness of disease processes and complications, comorbid conditions, medical coding, and Medicare reimbursement.

A balance of clinical expertise and coding knowledge makes a candidate ideal, says Bonnie Epps, MSN, RN, CDI director at Emory Healthcare in Atlanta.

“I think [CDI] work would be easier if we all were proficient in coding,” says Epps. “If someone is interested in CDI, they should try and learn something about what coding is and why it’s important.”

Those with clinical backgrounds wishing to enter the field need to understand that CDI specialists have little to no contact with patients. Although their clinical acumen will definitely be put to use, they will no longer have any sway over the patients’ day-to-day care.

CDI work is based solely on what is written in the clinical documentation. For former bedside nurses, this requires a novel way of thinking and a willingness to learn new skills, Epps says.

“[An applicant] should be able to pick up the skills to read the chart, analyze the chart, and learn the coding rules and language,” says Epps. “You must be willing to learn these things and think in new ways.”

Communication skills (both written and verbal), imagination and creativity, and analytical and problem solving skills are also a must.

“You have to be willing to work with others and collaborate,” says Epps.

5. Train yourself

Programs typically train new CDI specialists for three to six months through in-house mentoring, job shadowing, and formal classroom learning. They often send new staff members to a CDI Boot Camp and/or have consulting training available.

However, if you are serious about getting a job in the field and want to expand your knowledge, it may be a good idea to sign up for an online learning program or a CDI Boot Camp on your own time. You’ll receive a comprehensive overview of the job and required knowledge, which will make you a more competitive applicant for prospective employers.

If you would like to work on training yourself, here are some helpful resources:

LeBlanc says prospective CDI specialists should also brush up on their anatomy and physiology— especially important with the advent of ICD-10.

6. Apply for the job

You’ve done the research. You’ve decided the job is a good fit for your personality and skill set. Maybe you’ve even job shadowed a CDI specialist or networked with CDI professionals at a local event. Now it’s time to apply for the job. There are plenty of facilities out there that will hire new staff even if they do not have CDI experience. Highlight any related training and skills in your resume and during interviews.

Keep in mind, you do not need to have the Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist (CCDS) credential to become a CDI specialist. The CCDS represents a mark of distinction for those who have been working in the field for a number of years. In fact, you must be a working CDI specialist for at least two years before you can sit for the exam. CDI career path.

Note from the Instructor: Take a road trip this summer

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Take a CDI road trip this summer!

by Laurie L. Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CDIP

I recently taught a CDI Boot Camp at a large, multi-site organization, with attendees coming from CDI, HIM, and quality departments from four different sites. We began the week discussing the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, moving through each Major Diagnostic Category (MDC), and talking about concerns related to code assignment and sequencing.

This discussion was very much a review for the attendees who hailed from the CDI and coding departments. The quality staff, however, coming from a variety of roles related to core measures, patient safety indicators, inpatient quality reporting, and hospital value-based purchasing, had continuous lightbulb moments.

One individual literally hit the side of her head and said, “This explains so much. How come we were not taught this before?”

After the first few days, I asked the quality department staff if they have ever told a coder or a CDI specialist that they “coded it wrong.” Almost every attendee raised their hand. I then asked the CDI specialists and the coders if they have ever been told they had coded a record incorrectly by an individual who had no understanding of coding guidelines. Every one of them raised their hands.

We discussed communications with providers, compliant queries, and practices of leading versus non-leading interactions when speaking to providers. Many of those who worked under the umbrella of quality spoke up to say that perhaps their discussions with providers had been leading. They never received education about how to compliantly query a provider for a diagnosis or how to query for removal of a diagnosis.

When we discussed sequencing new rules related to Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and pneumonia, I noticed the quality folks looking at each other and making faces. I stopped the class to ask what was wrong. They responded by asking when the change occurred. When I told them late last year—per guidance from AHA Coding Clinic, Third Quarter 2016—they all sighed and one expressed frustration about not knowing about the change earlier. They had been struggling to understand why admissions for COPD suddenly sky rocketed. One simple discussion answered a question they had been struggling with for months. And, as an added bonus, they learned why the coders were sequencing these diagnoses as they were.

As the week progressed, we talked about the specifics of a number of quality monitors—discussing what populations were included, exclusions, and the adjustments applied to organizations related to reimbursement. Now the coders and the CDI staff were asking why they hadn’t been taught this material before. They began to understand why the quality department was so concerned about the presence or absence of specific diagnoses. The quality staff were saying, “we need your help.” There was a purpose to this class: to knock down silos, learn from each other, and support each other.

I often describe our efforts as a group of individuals driving down a five lane highway. We have coders, CDI specialists, quality staff, case managers/utilization review staff, and denials management all traveling in their own lane. But, we are all heading to the same destination. We are all working to bring success to our organization. We wish to be recognized for the high caliber of care we provide, and consequently reimbursed appropriately for the resources we lend to that effort. Documentation is the key to this successful road trip. The providers are working to navigate safely on this busy highway with only the drivers to direct them.

As we travel down this road, we often swerve into each other’s lane. Often we are forced to swerve because the provider looks for guidance from us, assuming we understand the driver’s manual for the other cars on the road. If we do not understand every other driver’s role and their specific manual, we cannot support each other. We need to keep all our vehicles traveling in the same direction at a safe speed and ensure that as the providers try to cross the road we don’t run them down. It is confusing to providers if the CDI specialists instructs them one way and the denial management team tells them the complete opposite. Then they seek clarification from the quality coordinator and get a third interpretation of the “rules.” The providers are bound to give up and just navigate in the bike lane, never making any actual progress.

So, how do we learn to support each other? We need to step out of our comfort zones and spend some time with the other disciplines driving down that highway. We need to ask questions and answer other’s questions in return. We need to recognize that what we do affects the other’s work and work to support them. Large organizations often foster silos more than smaller organizations as they separate out the job functions more definitively. Often smaller organizations expect one person to wear a number of hats. Even though there are issues with overwhelming one individual, it also breaks down barriers.

Before you panic, I am not suggesting one person does it all. I am suggesting, though, that we intermingle a bit more, shadow different job roles, invite others to shadow us.

Take the road trip together—it’s more fun that way!

Editor’s Note: Laurie L. Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CDIP, is a CDI Education Specialist at HCPro in Danvers, Massachusetts. Contact her at lprescott@hcpro.com. For information regarding CDI Boot Camps visit www.hcprobootcamps.com/courses/10040/overview.

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Conference Corner: How to use the new ACDIS bookstore booth

Those who’ve attended multiple conferences may recall the previous ACDIS bookstore booth as a pretty hectic place, both for the attendees and the staff involved. With those memories in mind, the ACDIS team worked to redesign the booth for this year’s conference.

The booth has three distinct areas: one for browsing and asking questions, one for purchasing your books, and one to demo our e-learning courses and chat with our sales staff. This layout will streamline the experience of shopping at the booth for everyone involved.

Please take a few moments to review the following steps to ensure you know how the booth setup works.

  1. First, head over to the tables at the booth to browse the book and product selections. ACDIS team members will be present to answer any questions you might have.

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    Step 1: Choose your books

  1. After you’ve selected which books to purchase, head over to the checkout area. Once there, tell the staff member which book(s) you’d like. They’ll retrieve them from the bookshelves and you can pay right there.

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    Step 2: Make your purchase

  1. To demo a CDI e-learning course or chat with one of our sales reps, head on over to the final area of the booth.

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    Step 3: Chat with a sales rep and demo our e-learning

If you have any questions about the booth setup while at the conference, head on over. The staff is happy to help walk you through the process.

 

Conference Corner: Shipping out to Vegas!

If you’ve ever felt that your luggage always ends up too heavy, taking a trip down to the loading dock to see the pallets shipping out to the 10th annual ACDIS conference in Las Vegas would certainly make you feel better about your bag.

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Linnea Archibald (left) and Penny Richards (right) joining in on the packing fun.

Though we already extended our thanks to the internal staff who make the ACDIS conference possible, the team putting this conference together deserve another round of applause. On Tuesday, the office management team finished packing up the pallets to ship to the conference. CCDS Coordinator Penny Richards and ACDIS Editor Linnea Archibald ventured down to the loading dock to see the process in action and were thoroughly impressed.

On the dock were five pallets ready to go onto the truck – each wrapped in cellophane and jam packed with ACDIS supplies. Here are a few of the items making the trek to Vegas:

  • More than 2,000 tote bags with goodies included
  • More than 2,000 event agendas, exhibit hall floor plans, program guides, and exhibitor directories
  • Close to 50 signs and posters
  • Office and setup supplies such as batteries, clips, box cutters, calculators, envelopes, extension cords, first aid kits, pens, scissors, and more
  • More than 600 pieces of pre-con materials
  • Book store merchandise
  • The ACDIS Achievement Awards

There’s no way the ACDIS conference would be as spectacular without the many staff members working behind the scenes. When you arrive at the conference, look around and imagine packing all that in your roll-around suitcase!

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The pallets packed and ready to go!

Note from the Associate Director: Learn from the best around in CDI

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Rebecca Hendren

By Rebecca Hendren

One of the tasks I enjoy most in my role as the ACDIS associate director of membership and product development is getting to interact with our book authors and CDI Boot Camp instructors. Many of these talented professionals have been involved in CDI longer than they’d care to admit, but through that experience have developed a keen insight into advancements in the industry along with a desire to share that knowledge with ACDIS and with the larger clinical documentation improvement community.

Once a year, at the ACDIS national conference, we also get to see their expertise in action as they share pearls of wisdom in one of three pre-conference events.

This year, CDI Education Director Laurie Prescott, MSN, RN, CCDS, CDIP, CRC, and Shannon McCall, RHIA, CPC, CCS, CCS-P, CPC-I, CCDS, CEMC, CRC, director of the HCPro suite of coding Boot Camps, bring a two-day version of their risk-adjustment record review and coding program.

If you never been in a class with these two, trust me, it’s a blast. I know. I know. As the associate director of membership and product development, I’m supposed to tell you that—but I mean it. As someone who comes from neither a clinical or coding background, diving into something as complex as coding guidelines’ application to CMS-Hierarchical Condition Category (HCC) methodology is more than intimidating but these lovely ladies do a tremendous job of providing detailed instruction on the individual HCCs and opportunities for improved documentation with clinical scenarios to demonstrate how these concepts can be incorporated into CDI practice.

As an ACDIS staff member, I’m particularly lucky because I get to bounce around to a number of different sessions. So, I’m also looking forward to catching up with two of my favorite CDI people Richard Pinson, MD, CCS, and Cynthia Tang, RHIA, CCS, co-creators of the beloved CDI Pocket Guide. They’re teaching a pre-conference event designed to help CDI programs break down departmental silos into a collaborative, cohesive team. It’s called “Building a Best Practice CDI Team,” and throughout the program Pinson and Tang will explore the importance of understanding how your medical staff thinks and learns—and adjusting CDI efforts accordingly.

“A successful CDI team is based on engagement of medical staff obtained through effective communication,” says Pinson. “For example, physicians often respond to education using evidence-based literature and consensus guidelines. By collaborating with your team, you will find the methods that work.”

Over the course of the past year, I’ve also had the distinct pleasure of being able to work with Trey La Charité, MD, FACP, SFHM, CCDS, medical director of clinical documentation integrity and coding for UT Hospitalists at the University of Tennessee Medical Center (UTMC), as he crafted not one but two books—The CDI Companion for Physician Advisors and The CDI Field Guide to Denial Prevention and Audit Defense. That’s in addition to the volume, The Physician Advisor’s Guide to Clinical Documentation Improvement, that he co-wrote with James S. Kennedy, MD, CCS, CCDS, CDIP, president of CDIMD-Physician Champions.

I know how beloved both doctors La Charité and Kennedy are within our community and know how much people love their pre-conference deep-dive into essentially everything a CDI physician advisor needs to know to help CDI programs flourish. The second day of this preconference event includes a second track case study featuring Erica E. Remer, MD, FACEP, CCDS, and Kelly Skorepa, BSN, RN, CCDS, corporate manager of clinical documentation integrity for University Hospitals Health System in Cleveland. I’ve heard Remer speak during ACDIS Radio programs, so I’m interested in learning more from her as well.

If you’re already signed up for one of these pre-conference events, I’m sure you’re as excited as we are. If you’re still on the fence about whether these extra courses will meet your CDI program’s educational needs, check out the agendas on the ACDIS website or feel free to reach out to me to learn more.

Editor’s note: Rebecca Hendren is the associate director of membership and product development at ACDIS. If you have any questions, please reach her at rhendren@acdis.org.