By Brian Murphy, director of ACDIS

Provider/physician engagement (pick your synonymous term for the person who diagnoses and provides medical care) has always been a core function of CDI. CDI specialists don’t just review records and issue queries to the provider. They also teach them the why behind the need for accurate, complete, and specific documentation.

In recent years, however, some organizations have noticed a change in that relationship. Remote CDI, which has been a boon for attracting and retaining CDI reviewers and is now an industry standard, has in some cases led to an erosion of the provider/CDI relationship.

More administrative asks from the likes of CMS and other quality programs have led to more burden on harried providers. We’ve all seen the sobering statistics these days. Physician burnout, often rooted to administrative tasks in the EHR including completion of timely progress notes, discharge summaries, and pre-authorization paperwork, not to mention timely query responses, is reaching epidemic levels. According to a June 2019 survey from Mayo Clinic Proceedings, physician burnout costs an estimated $4.6 billion annually. Earlier surveys have found that the burnout rate is above 50%.

We know provider engagement is critical to the CDI mission, and can help with alleviating burnout. But if you are looking for a single model for what provider engagement should look like, across all organizations, you are destined to meet with frustration. Hospitals are not sports teams, operating with a consistent set of rules and under a uniform salary cap. Provider engagement at a 100-bed community hospital staffed with 1.5 CDI professionals will not, and cannot, look identical to provider engagement at a 1,000-bed academic medical center with 12 full-time CDI specialists.

Rather than viewing this lack of conformity as an obstacle, what I really like about provider engagement is the variety of creative solutions going on at organizations across the country.

Over the next several months, culminating at the 2020 ACDIS conference in Las Vegas, ACDIS will be unveiling a series of helpful resources on provider engagement in CDI. These include a series of papers highlighting the topic, a series of case studies ranging from organizations that have opted for full clinical integration of their CDI staff, to CDI staffed remotely and how they address provider engagement, to hybrid models that have blended the best of all worlds. We’ll also be deploying a survey to gather data on CDI specialist productivity and the effect provider engagement can have on chart reviews.

These will be provided in the form of digital reports, as well as case studies shared in writing as well and live on our ACDIS quarterly conference calls (if you’re not an ACDIS member, today is a great time to join or renew).

At the 2020 conference in Vegas, the ACDIS advisory board hold a culminating panel session with highlights from the case studies, survey results, lessons learned, and strategies that work across facilities of all sizes and budgets.

Get engaged with your providers, and get engaged with ACDIS, as we bring you lessons from the trenches on provider engagement. I’m looking forward to this project unfolding over the coming months and hope you are as well.

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