How Children's National is working to improve CDI

Clinical documentation and coding remain key focuses for healthcare organizations, as they affect reimbursement for services, and in turn the bottom line.

Washington, D.C.-based Children's National Health System in no exception. For the past two years, the organization has made efforts to build a CDI program and the infrastructure capabilities to support it, according to Alec King, executive vice president and CFO of Children's National.

As part of those efforts, the organization went from approximately three full-time equivalent CDI specialists to about nine.

Children's National also set out to make it easier for physicians to answer questions from other staff about CDI and coding. The previous communication method was Microsoft Outlook, which made it nearly impossible to report and monitor success with physician queries, says Mr. King. This method also presented more administrative burden for physicians because they often had to find a patient's charge, determine the query answer and then make any necessary changes in the EMR.

"There were just a lot of missing pieces to the CDI puzzle," says Mr. King. "From where we stood, we didn't have technology tools, [and] we didn't have the staffing for it."

But now, in addition to more CDI staff, Children's National is implementing Artifact Health's mobile application. The solution is designed to improve the physician query process, and integrates into the health system's Cerner EHR.

Mr. King says the primary benefit of this tool is physicians can answer CDI and coding questions from a desktop computer or mobile device at anytime and from anywhere. As a result, physicians have more time to spend on patient care because they don't have to spend as much time on CDI and coding queries.

Children's National learned about the Artifact solution from an institution 40 miles away. Therefore, Mr. King encourages other pediatric hospitals seeking to improve coding accuracy to examine improvement efforts at other facilities.

"Don't reinvent the wheel. Find out what the best are doing and see where you can kind of jump on the moving train," he says.

Overall, he anticipates a total five-year journey toward building Children's National's CDI program and the capabilities to support it.


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