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Conference Update: Things to do in Las Vegas, part 2

ACDIS Conference Corner

ACDIS Conference Corner

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.

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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


Conference Update: Things to do in Las Vegas, part 1

ACDIS Conference Corner

ACDIS Conference Corner

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

  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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
  1. 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




Conference Q&A: Faustino shares her remote CDI experiences

Lara Faustino

Lara Faustino, RN, BSN, CCDS

Editor’s note: So we’re getting close to conference time!  we’ll take some time to introduce members to a few of this year’s speakers. The conference takes place May 9-12, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Today, we caught up with Lara Faustino, RN, BSN, CCDS, a CDI s specialist at Boston Medical Center (BMC), who will present “A Visibly Invisible CDI Team.” She has 10 years of clinical experience in three large, academic medical centers in New England and extensive knowledge in both CDI and quality enterprises. During her career, Faustino developed best practice provider education for documentation, helped with her facility’s EMR transition, and developed training strategies and tools for the ICD-10 transition. Additionally, she was nominated by peers to the Massachusetts Regional Leadership Co-Chair status (2016) and served as the national 2015 BMC representative at the ACDIS national conference.


Q: How does your remote CDI position give you a unique perspective on the field as a whole?

A: I believe as technology advances, specifically the integration of the electronic health record (EHR) and tele health, I view a new angle on healthcare delivery (not just the field of CDI) as a whole. As the future state of virtual physical assessment evolves using iPads/iPhones from a remote setting, a successful CDI program will adapt to the same methods of communication to enhance the physician relationship.


Q: What are three things attendees can expect from your session?

A: Attendees can expect to learn about decisions that prompted the program to go remote; how to identify key strategies that support the success of a remote CDI Program; and the work/life balance.


Q: What one tool can CDI professionals not live without?

A: Specifically, from a remote CDI perspective, an excellent internet connection to an electronic health record!


Q: In what ways does your session challenge CDI professionals to think outside the box?

A: My session will challenge CDI professionals to think outside the “walls” of a hospital setting – self-discipline, autonomy, and confidence and how to maintain harmony will all be discussed.


Q: What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?

A: Networking! I always enjoy learning from a variety of CDI professionals from across the nation and it always amazes me how very similar we are, or how vastly different we approach the same types of challenges.


Q: Fun question: Do you have pets and if so, what are their names?

A: I do! I have a dynamic duo of dogs that keep my days exciting (my office mates!). Their names are Max (Beagle) and Oliver (Golden Retriever), but we call them “Ham & Cheese!”


Conference Update: Attendance proposal for the 10th annual ACDIS conference

Editor’s Note: CDI professionals wishing to earn support from program administrators to attend the ACDIS 10th Annual Conference may adapt the following proposal.

To whom it may concern:

I would like to attend the ACDIS conference in Las Vegas, May 9-12, 2017.

Understanding the limitation of our CDI program professional development budget, I want to outline why attendance represents a worthy expense.

The acdis conference offers a diverse range of sessions on the latest trends and techniques to enhance not just my own professional skills, but will afford me education I can bring back to our facility to share with our entire CDI program. The 2017 conference features more than two full days of training and education and networking opportunities, with five concurrent tracks featuring a diverse range of topics including best practices for staff management, physician engagement, clinically focused chart reviews, and critical regulatory updates to improve every aspect of our CDI department.

Here is a link to the conference webpage, which includes the complete agenda.

ACDIS always offers pre-conference events that we may also want consider including  a Risk Adjustment Documentation and Coding Boot Camp, another on Building a Best Practice CDI Team, and a third on The Physician Advisor Role in CDI.

The conference offers us an opportunity to meet and problem-solve with CDI experts. We can learn first-hand from the experiences of others which makes this an opportunity we cannot afford to miss.


Specifically, I want to attend the conference to get information or help with:

  1. <Fill in>
  2. <Fill in>
  3. <Fill in>

Here is an estimation of the cost to send me to the ACDIS Conference. The cost of conference includes the cost of some breakfasts and lunches:

Hotel: Three nights at $199*, for a total of $597 (hotels fill quickly so we should reserve as soon as possible).

*The hotel is charging a mandatory daily resort fee of $30 which includes access to the fitness center, Wi-Fi in the room, a daily newspaper, local and toll free numbered calls, and limited access to the business center including notary services and boarding pass printing.

Registration: $1,005 (early-bird discount is $905); ACDIS member $905 (early bird $805)

Airfare/travel is a cost I haven’t estimated.

I am requesting approval so we can take advantage of the early-bird registration rate of only $805 (if we’re ACDIS members) if we register before March 7, 2017. If we send the team, the fifth person registers for free (which we may wish to take advantage of).

If we are approved, we can further discuss which sessions might be best to attend to benefit our overall program. And, of course, we’ll meet after the conference to discuss significant takeaways, tips, and recommended actions to maximize our investment in our CDI program. I will also share relevant information with the team and other staff.

Thank you for considering this request. Again, if I get approval now, then we can save up to $200 on the registration, and keep our total investment to about $2,000. I look forward to your reply.

Thank you!



Conference Q&A: Ericson sheds light on alternative payment models


Cheryl Ericson, MS, RN, CCDS, CDIP

Editor’s note: Over the coming weeks leading up to the conference, we’ll take some time to introduce members to a few of this year’s speakers. The conference takes place May 9-12, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. For today’s Q&A, we caught up with Cheryl Ericson, MS, RN, CCDS, CDIP, the manager of clinical documentation services with DHG Healthcare, who will present “Leveraging CDI to Improve Performance under Alternative Payment Model Methodology.” Ericson is recognized as a CDI subject matter expert for her body of work which includes many speaking engagements and publications for a variety of industry associations. She currently serves on the advisory board for ACDIS and its credentialing committee (CCDS).

Q: Could you tell me a bit about what makes Alternative Payment Models (APM) different for CDI?

A: Participation in voluntary APMs is very complex and requires a high level of commitment from the healthcare organization. More than 800 hospitals, however, are required to participate in the Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Model (CJR) and an additional 1,100 or more hospitals will be required to participate in the episode payment for AMI and coronary artery bypass grafts (CABG). Because participation is based on randomly selected Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) many hospitals may be unprepared for the impact. These models are retrospective so the hospital is paid as usual under the applicable MS-DRG, but following the completion of the performance year the hospital may be required to return some of their payment to Medicare or they may receive an additional payment. This type of model, like many of the outcome measures included in the mandatory value-based methodologies, require CDI specialists to look beyond the current episode of care. The mandatory quality programs, however, only use a 30-day timeframe. In comparison, an episode of care in the APMs extends 90 days beyond hospital discharge or the date of surgery.

Q: What are three things attendees can expect from your session?

A: Attendees can expect to learn:

  1. The difference between the mandatory value-based programs such as HVBP, HRRP, HACRP, and mandatory APMs
  2. A better understanding of the mandatory bundled/episode based payment methodologies
  3. Strategies to incorporate into the CDI process to accurately reflect organizational performance under the mandatory bundled/episode payment methodology

Q: What is one tool CDI professionals cannot live without?

A: A grouper that supports risk-adjustment efforts.

Q: In what ways does your session challenge CDI professionals to think outside the box?

A: As the fee-for-service population decreases, which was reliant on CC and MCC capture, CDI specialists need to understand and modify their efforts to reflect modern CMS reimbursement strategies to support organizational financial health.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?

A: Like most, I enjoy reconnecting with friends. I have the added bonus of reconnecting with former ACDIS Boot Camp participants. It’s great to learn how people have advanced in their career as the CDI profession continues to grow!

Q: Fun question: What is your favorite candy?

A: Dove Promises dark chocolate with almonds. Yum!


Conference Update: ACDIS achievement awards nomination deadline extended

achievement awards

ACDIS Achievement Awards

Every year, the ACDIS Achievement Awards are presented at the annual ACDIS conference. There’s still time to nominate someone! The deadline has been extended to Friday, February 17, 2017, to allow more nominations.

Please nominate a colleague who has made significant contributions to the CDI field, who makes a difference in the profession, or is an outspoken advocate of CDI. We are still accepting nominations in the following categories. Click on the links to view each award’s criteria.

All nominations will be reviewed and voted on by the ACDIS Conference Committee in conjunction with ACDIS administration. You may upload supporting material with your nomination. Only one document upload is permitted per nomination. There are three question fields relating to attaching supporting material and if you want to upload files for multiple fields, please combine them into one document or zip them together.

Please fill out the nomination form by Friday, February 17, 2017. Click here:

Conference Q&A: Hirsch offers insight into CDI utilization review contributions


Ronald Hirsch, MD

Editor’s Note: Over the comings 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’ve reached out to Ronald Hirsch, MD, FACP, CHCQM-PHYADV, vice president of the regulations and education group at AccretivePAS Clinical Solutions, who will present “Medicare Regulation Update: Practical Application for CDI Professionals.” Hirsch is certified in Health Care Quality and Management by the American Board of Quality Assurance and Utilization Review Physicians and serves on the Advisory Board of the American College of Physician Advisors. He is the co-author of The Hospital Guide to Contemporary Utilization Review, published in 2015.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered related to implementing Medicare regulations?
Regulations and guidance from CMS are often vague and occasionally contradictory. These regulations affect everyone, including the doctor, the patient, the bedside nurse, the case managers, CDI staff, the billing and coding staff, and the C-suite (those working in upper administrative roles). Understanding the regulations and implementing them compliantly across the many affected groups is a challenge for hospitals.

Q: What are three things attendees can expect from your session?
Let me just list some of these out:

  1. To hear a simple explanation of the two-midnight rule
  2. To understand the practical application of medical necessity guidelines for CDI professionals
  3. To be familiarized with the required patient notifications

Q: What is one tool CDI professionals cannot live without?
A: If they learn the two-midnight rule as I teach it, they will become the hero of their institution.

Q: In what ways does your session challenge CDI professionals to think outside the box?
A: CDI professionals work hand in hand with case managers but often do not understand their work. Gaining an understanding of that work makes them a more indispensable part of the team.

Q: What are you most looking forward to about this year’s conference?
A: As a physician advisor expert, my CDI knowledge is quite cursory. With the breadth of courses available at the conference. I expect to walk out with a much deeper understanding of CDI. I can’t wait for the pre-conference Boot Camp for physician advisors. It will be an honor to hear from Erica Remer, MD, and James Kennedy, MD, two of the most renowned physicians in CDI.

Q: Fun question: Do you have any pets?
My wife and I just got a new kitten three weeks ago. Leopold is a little wild thing during the day between naps but he loves to cuddle with us at night in bed.

ACDIS Update: 2016 Conference Speakers Sought, 2015 Conference Recap Posted

Just as parents aren’t supposed to pick favorites, I really shouldn’t call out one conference experience as “better” than another. Johnny may excel at sports and Sally may dominate in spelling, but each has unique talents. So it goes with ACDIS. Las Vegas in 2014 had its glitz. San Diego in 2012, with its bay side balconies, had its foggy charm. Chicago in 2010 had its parade of educational offerings and boat-trip networking fun. And yet … as the ACDIS Conference team boarded a San Antonio river boat to celebrate on the final day, the general consensus soon turned into a chorus of praise. The 2015 conference in
San Antonio—our biggest conference yet, with roughly 1,500 attendees—will definitely have a special place in our hearts. Why? Well, there were a number of reasons that you can read more about in the 2015 ACDIS Conference Special Section posted under the July edition of the CDI Journal (but you can take a look at the edition below).

While I know the San Antonio ACDIS Conference was amazing, I also know that there are many more CDI success stories waiting to be shared. We’re looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you on stage at the 2016 ACDIS Conference in Atlanta.

Click here to view the speaker application.

For more information on the types of presentation sought for the 2016 event, visit the ACDIS Blog.

The speaker application period closes end of day on Tuesday, September 1. All final decisions will be made by the 2016 ACDIS conference committee and applicants will be notified of their decision in October.

Volunteers sought for 2016 ACDIS Conference Committee

ACDIS needs your help planning 9th annual conference next May in Atlanta.

The 2016 ACDIS Conference Committee will meet via conference call on a regular basis. The 12-member team will establish core topics, special panels, events, and review all speaker applications and presentation proposals. The committee also assesses presentations to determine audience level, and content appropriateness.

Committee members receive 50% off conference admission, but must commit to this important task, which includes approximately 10-12 meetings of an hour in duration, plus individual review time.

Those interested in serving on the 2016 ACDIS Conference Committee must be active ACDIS members and have attended at least two previous ACDIS conferences. To volunteer, please download this application form, fill it out, and email it to ACDIS Director Brian Murphy by Friday, June 19.

Conference Update: Thank you to our staff!

Staff enjoyed a Texas-inspired spread as a thank you for making ACDIS 2015 a success!

Staff enjoyed a Texas-inspired spread as a thank you for making ACDIS 2015 a success. 

It’s been a week since we said goodbye to San Antonio and the ACDIS staff boarded their flights to get back to work. We’ve experienced a lot of emotions coming out of this year’s conference: excitement about our successful new app; enthusiasm for the number of attendees and four session tracks; happiness for meeting so many amazing members and speakers; and a little bit of sadness for leaving a city that welcomed us so warmly and treated us so well for the duration of the conference. Our hearts go out to those residents of San Antonio and nearby cities affected by the follow week’s torrential downpours and resulting floods.

It’s important to remember that the success of the 2015 conference did not come from the efforts of a just a few individuals. The ACDIS team is supported by dozens of people with innumerable talents that, when put together, produce the thriving conference we experienced in San Antonio.

Yesterday, we thanked ACDIS’ parent company, HCPro/BLR staff members who made the conference possible…Texas-style! We’re talking margaritas, chips and salsa, pulled pork sliders, the works. We just had to do a little something to show our team how much we appreciate their hard work—and we hope you’ll join us in thanking them as well.

While it would be near impossible to name every single person who contributed in some way, we’re going to give it our best shot:

Jess Carbone: I think it goes without saying that one of the biggest conference changes this year was going green. With that, the ACDIS Conference App was born. Jess was the main person behind the app, and she worked tirelessly throughout the development process, uploading materials, training the rest of the ACDIS staff on how to use the app, and, of course, helping attendees in any way she could throughout the conference to make the transition as smooth as possible. We loved seeing the attendees interact through the app and post updates from the sessions, and it would not have been possible without all of Jess’s hard work!

Shannon Storella, Kathy Wilson, Wendy Walsh, Maggie Gagnon, and the entire events team: Shannon was our fearless leader throughout the conference, from the planning stages to the live event. She kept us all in line and helped the event run as smoothly as possible.

Kathy did an amazing job as usual holding the entire event together. The conference wouldn’t be as successful and fun without her!

Wendy is our conference producer extraordinaire, helping guide the speakers from the planning stages of their presentations to the actual conference. She kept track of speakers’ presentations, made sure their travel arrangements were set, ensured their presentations met ANCC continuing education requirements, and a host of ot

her tasks required to keep the sessions full of quality information. Not to mention, she helped prepare our room moderators to produce the best session experiences possible.

Maggie did a fantastic job both behind the scenes leading up to the conference and throughout the conference to generally ensure that the entire event ran smoothly.

Sharme Brodie, Melissa Osborn, Katy Rushlau, and Michelle Leppert: These folks did a terrific job as our room moderators, making sure the sessions ran as smoothly as possible. They all did an amazing job keeping the rest of the conference group updated via the app on interesting quotes and tid-bits from each presentation as well.

Sheila McGrath, David Horvath, Melissa Varnavas, Penny Richards, Rachel Dicker, Chris Driscoll, and everyone in the ACDIS booth: All did an amazing job explaining the various books, pocket guides, newsletters, and other products available to help CDI programs train their staff and grow. In between sessions, the booth was constantly crowded with attendees wanting to make a purchase or ask a question, and they were always ready and eager to help.

Mary Ann Genovese, Jennifer Hollis, and the rest of our exhibit hall support staff: These folks did a great job working with exhibitors and organizing floor plans, and assisting and directing attendees during the conference.

Melissa Ketelson, Shannon McCall, Dave Garvey, and our registration folks: Thank you for making the registration process run so smoothly, and for answering attendee’s questions, fixing or replacing badges, and providing support throughout the conference.

Cheryl Ericson and Laurie Prescott: Great job at our pre-con Boot Camps, and for helping out throughout the conference in any way you could.

And, finally, our operations manager and staff Matt Sharpe and Mike Mirabello, who make sure all our shipments arrived on time. The list goes on, and surely we’ve still left a few names off the list!

It truly does take a village, and it’s important to recognize the remarkable team behind the faces you know as ACDIS. The conference wouldn’t be what it is without the effort of each and every person on this team.