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Social networking: Are you ‘LinkedIn’?

Hi folks, I am working on getting ACDIS set up on Facebook and LinkedIn. Do you guys use this stuff?

A friend of mine who works for a New York City television production company got me on Facebook about two years ago. She posted a few photos and “poked” me a few times. The whole thing baffled me.

My coworkers here at HCPro “invited” me join LinkedIn, explaining it was the “professional” social networking site. I joined, invited others, got “recommended” and filled out my “profile.” But I didn’t understand that anymore than anyother networking site.

In the past few months, however, I’ve come to realize the intrinsic value of these Internet Age wonders. Here’s an analogy that won’t age me too much: Remember how exciting it was to receive a letter in the mail. It felt like openi’ ng presents on Christmas. Someone cared enough about you, and their relationship with you, to share their time and a piece of their lives with you. That was old-school letter writing. When e-mail came around a simple “ping” could make heart feel the same way.

Now we use e-mail for all sorts of communication both personal and professional. Depending on your perspective that “ping” could warm your heart or make you squeamish but there’s no denying the pervasive nature of the communication medium. The same is true now for social networking tools like Facebook and LinkedIn. These sites represent a new way to share our lives with each other.

For example, when researching the social networking tool “Twitter” (I’ll get into that later) I posted a short sentence about it on Facebook. A half dozen “friends” responded with informative articles and constuctive Web sites to help get me up to speed. We can make great use of these tools as clinical documentation improvement profession continues to grow.

So, yes, I’ve gone ahead and created a new LinkedIn group account for the Association of Clinical Documentation Improvment Specialists. If you’re on the site please post an interesting article you’ve read recently or post a question or comment you might otherwise have asked on ACDIS’ CDI Talk group.

Let’s put this new technology to work for us!

Compliance eyes CDI concerns

When brought to court under a False Claims Act whistleblower suit, a miscommunication regarding leading physician queries no longer seems like a misdemeanor. One potential suit is rumored (it has not been publicly released yet) to have its roots in CDI, according to a January 26 article in the Report on Medicare Compliance.

The article outlines a few emerging compliance concerns and quotes our own ACDIS board member Robert Gold, MD, who reiterated for the compliance crowd that the goal of a CDI program is improved documentation.

Furthermore, the goal of improved documentation should be consistent across payers and disease-type, he says. The goal shouldn’t be improved documentation-but only for Medicare patients. It shouldn’t be improved documentation-only for acute respiratory failure patients. Or only for any other special situation. Where consistency lags, the risk for fraud excels.

In CDI Strategies on January 22, we explored a few ways you can work with your compliance officer to locate risk areas and develop compliance policies and procedures. A first step, of course, is to reach out to your facility’s compliance officer and tell him or her about your CDI program. If you do not have a compliance program at your facility, consider reaching out to other facilities in your area. Ask an experienced compliance professional to help you scrutinize your program’s practices, policies, and procedures to ensure you don’t run afoul of the law.

Look for additional tips and the latest information in the upcoming quarterly CDI Journal. In the meantime, please let us know if you are currently working with your compliance officer and what tools or tips you might have developed that you wouldn’t mind sharing with others.

Looking for locals: CDIs sought for conversation, coffee

“The mechanism underlying human moral conduct
 is the desire for attachment or affiliation.”
J. Q. Wilson, The Moral Sense

If you carry jumper cables in your car and your wife knows how to use them, you live in New England. If you’ve worn shorts and a parka at the same time (and say pah-kah), you live in New England.

My sister-in-law sent me this joke. . . it gets more and more “local” as it goes on-like If you fondly look forward to seeing the orange T-Rex or the leaning tower of pizza, you’re from Massachusetts. (No kidding, the T-Rex is a North Shore Massachusetts landmark. Look how the local media handled the news when vandals toppled it!)

A Massachusetts icon!

A Massachusetts icon!

Many of us form our sense of self through our surroundings. Over time, the simple geography of a place seeps into our thoughts, our words, our actions. Perhaps that’s why it’s so important for CDI specialists to connect with each other face-to-face, in local communities. As the above quote states, we need to affiliate ourselves with like-minded people. It guides our actions and informs our behavior both professionally and personally.

So, we’re very excited and proud of the many CDI specialists across the country who are networking on the local level. Right now (so far) CDI groups meet in Louisiana, New York, New England, North Carolina, and Northern Illinois. (If you are a member of one of these groups and would like to “blog” about your meetings please let me know.)

And we have a number of people interested in forming organizations in their areas. For example, Linda Haynes, RHIT, a documentation specialist at Legacy Health System hopes to gather a group in the Oregon/Southwestern Washington area. She has her eye on a summer 2009 start and wants input/feedback for meeting topic ideas. Leave a comment here or e-mail her directly at

ACDIS members may know Leticia Culbertson, MSPHN, BSN, RN, CCS, Valley Baptist Medical Center in Harlingen, TX, from the CDI Journal article that featured her program. She’s hoping to get an ACDIS chapter started in the Lone Star State. Again, feel free to comment on this blog or e-mail her directly at

Down in Florida, Kimberly Richert, RN, CDS, lead clinical documentation specialist at BayCare Health Systems, in Clearwater, offered to take the lead and be the primary contact person to get the proverbial ball rolling. Contact her directly at

New Orleans CDIS Chapter 2009 meeting dates set!

Greater New Orleans CDIS Chapter unmasks dates for 2009 meetings

Greater New Orleans CDIS Chapter unmasks dates for 2009 meetings.

In December of 2007, Melissa Mayer,  RN, BS, and her two other CDI colleagues at East Jefferson General Hospital in Metairie, LA, were new to the world of clinical documentation improvement. “It was very nice,” Mayer said. “We decided to keep the meetings relatively informal.”

“We were longing for contact with the outside world so to speak,” Mayer said in an e-mail. 

The program director sent out notices to other healthcare facilities in the area and voila the Greater New Orleans Chapter of CDIS was born.

The group held it’s first meeting with about 12 invitees at a local restaurant on August 7, 2008.

At that first meeting the members shared query forms, compared work routines and productivity expectations. And they decided to meet every other month! So, the second meeting quickly got underway in November with an extended contact list and a bit more formal agenda.

They kept the ever-other-month meeting schedule but asked each facility to sign up to host a meeting, arrange the location, and organize the presentation based on feedback from the group. For example, the November meeting featured a discussion of decubitus ulcers coding changes and the changes East Jefferson General Hospital made to adjust.

“We are looking forward to the next meeting and we are very glad to have established such a resource in addition to using the ACDIS Web site,” Mayer said.

The Greater New Orleans Area CDIS Chapter set the following meeting dates:

  • March 11
  • May 13
  • July 8
  • September 9
  • November 11

The time is usually 4-6 p.m. However, the location is not set for each date yet.  If you’re ready to join the New Orleans CDIS fun, says Mayer, feel free to contact her at, or her colleagues Royceann Fugler at or Lindy Sells at

Weekend warriors? What’s your relaxation plan?

Over the holidays we posted a poll asking who planned to continuing checking the charts through the Christmas holiday. Most CDI professionals had the holiday off. But as I’m sitting here in the local coffee shop (JACHO, who’s motto is “Live Slow”) reading poetry while my husband adds details his latest artistic sketch, I’m wondering how many of you have the chance to chill on the weekend.

Maybe you’ve got a secret hobby or favorite family pasttime too? Let me know how you spend your weekends. If you’d rather I put up a poll on this topic, let me know.

Tomorrow, we’re taking our niece into the MFA for her birthday.

See you Monday!

North Carolina CDI prepares for February meeting

A North Carolina female cardinal looking for some other birds of a feather to flock with. Maybe she should try the February North Carolina CDI meeting!

A North Carolina female cardinal looking for some other birds of a feather to flock with. Maybe she should try the February North Carolina CDI meeting!

A group of clinical documentation improvement specialists in North Carolina held their first meeting in November 2008. The meeting went so well, the group set tentative plans to join up again in February at Gaston Memorial Hospital, in Gastonia, NC. (More details to come.)

And the group set dates for additional meetings on:
  •  June 5, at Novant Health System in Winston-Salem, NC.
  • August 28, a Novant Health System in Charlotte, NC.

I’ve got a friend in the Charlotte area so maybe I’ll be able to make it down there to meet you all! If you’re in the wonderful cardinal state get in touch with Leah Taylor, RN, at and swing by the next meeting.

By the way, did you know that cardinals gather in flocks of up to 70 birds during the winter? Imagine if the NC group could gather that many CDI specialists!

New England Regional CDS meeting set

The New England Regional Clinical Documentation Specialists meeting is slated for Thursday, snow_flake_clipart_9February 26, 1:15-3:30 p.m. at Norwood Hospital, in Norwood, MA. Plans include discussions with an infectious disease physician regarding sepsis and, time permitting, additional discussion regarding CDI policies and procedures.

Check out the following documents that Bernadine Darienzzo sent over:

Have any of you been struggling with forming policies and procedures for your departments? We’ve been hearing some questions and concerns from various corners. Please let me know what you’re focusing on in this area by posting a comment. I could really use your help developing an article or focus group! And it might help generate conversation for our New England friends.

Participate in Physician Query Benchmarking Survey

CDI professionals spent the bulk of 2008 worrying and wondering what guidance AHIMA would finally offer for conducting physician queries. The back and forth negotiation of final guidance development proved fruitful for many healthcare stakeholders from compliance to finance, health information to clinical documentation improvement.

But it’s time to take the guidance off the shelf and see how those in our profession actually use the physician query process every day. Please take a moment to participate in our ACDIS Physician Query Benchmarking Survey.

We will analyze the results and issue a report later this spring. While the best part of participation really comes from the sharing of information and the general condition of creating community. . . ACDIS Director Brian Murphy sweetened this incentive by adding a little contest to the mix.  One lucky participant will be chosen at random to receive a free admission to this year’s ACDIS conference at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. If the winner already has a paid seat to the conference then he or she gets a free pass to the pre-conference event, ICD-9 Coding Essentials: What every CDI specialist needs to know.

So, click here, take the survey, help your fellow CDI professionals, and enter for a chance to win! Note that we plan to conduct these benchmarking surveys on a quarterly basis, and offer them exclusively for ACDIS members.

Breaking down sterotypes the CDI way

Those who have their eyes and ears open these days can’t help but see a shift at play. Monday was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Tuesday, we inaugurated the 44th President of the United States—and celebrated the first African American picked for the post.


So what better time to reexamine the stereotypes that most afflict the CDI profession—the preconceived notions about the roles and responsibilities of CDI specialists. There’s been lots of talk about who makes the best CDI professional—coders or nurses, case managers or HIM professionals. Similarly, there’s plenty of discussion about how to overcome the challenges of the “difficult” physician.


ACDIS advisors have tackled some of these concerns in CDI Journal articles, ACDIS Blog posts, and CDI Strategies snippits. For instance, check out this article from the CDI Journal regarding how to bridge the gap between coders CDI programs in the January 2008 issue, or this article by Lynne Spryszak, RN, about how to work with ancillary departments at your facility, or this piece regarding the role of physician advisers.


Now is the time to take a second look at our own stereotypes and break away from preconceived notions of how we expect people to think or work or act. This shift may just open the door to new possibilities.

Recognizing greatness: Nominations open for CDI Specialist of the Year

As most of you know, I’m a writer by trade and, some say, talent. I’m constantly telling ACDIS Director Brian Murphy how lucky he is to have me on board as ACDIS’ No. 2 go-to girl. (I think I nearly have him convinced.)

CDI specialists do not need to lean on self-promotional tactics like mine, thanks to the annual “CDI Professional of the Year” award.  Thankfully, there’s a little more glam and sparkle to this contest than there is to my generally unheeded boastings to Brian. For starters, winners get free admission to the annual ACDIS conference.  And don’t forget about the nifty trophy, of course.

Perhaps most importantly those chosen from the collection of nominations become the standard bearers for best practices of the CDI profession.

Last year, Randi Ferrare, RN, BSN, a CDI specialist at Morton Plant Mease Healthcare in Clearwater, FL, earned the award for revamping the program and instilling a multidiciplinary approach to documentation improvement.

“[Ferrare is] a very strong leader, and with that, she brings the mentoring piece. We’ve never worked with anybody like her,” said co-worker Kimberly Richert, RN.

In addition, CDI Professional Achievement awards went to Karla Johnson, clinical documentation specialist supervisor at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines and Nancy Taylor Ward, director of case management/documentation improvement at Tampa (FL) General Hospital.

We get so busy actually performing the duties of our respective professional roles that we neglect to see the proverbial forest through the trees. CDI specialists provide an important function in healthcare. This is your opportunity to earn accolades for your accomplishments. Please take a moment to fill out the form and send it to And good luck!