COVID-19: Assessing the Impact on CDI Operations

By Katie Martin 

Last week, The Association of Clinical Documentation Integrity Specialists (ACDIS) hosted a webinar to assess the impact of COVID-19 on CDI operations. Panelist Fran Jurcak, Chief Clinical Strategist at Iodine Software, was joined by CDI leaders from Yale New Haven Health System, LifePoint Health, and Catholic Health Services.

All panelists noted overall volume declines, mainly due to fewer inpatient elective surgeries. Lower patient volumes provide a unique opportunity for healthcare leaders to explore opportunities to re-assess workflow and processes in their CDI programs. Angie Comfort, Senior Director of CDI and Coding Operations at LifePoint Health, noted that she discussed with CFOs across the system the possibility of expanding review to all payers given the decline in inpatient admissions. Reviewing only select payers leaves gaps between clinical evidence, documentation uncorrected and reimbursement uncaptured on cases of payers not reviewed. Many Iodine clients were able to go to all payer coverage prior to COVID-19, leveraging Iodine’s prioritization technology to identify appropriate records for review. According to Jurcak, “most of our programs are all-payer, trying to look at every appropriate record to ensure documentation integrity.” 

The panel also discussed the potential to maintain remote CDI work after the pandemic. According to the in-webinar survey, only 15.6% of respondents were already remote prior to COVID-19, but an additional 74.0% who were previously either onsite or hybrid onsite/remote are now fully remote. Adelaide La Rosa, VP of HIM, CDI, EMPI, and DRG Appeals at Catholic Health Services, believes healthcare leaders will consider fully remote CDI teams as a strategy for limiting resource usage, particularly onsite workspace. In addition, removing the geographic barrier to staffing could help mitigate the impact of challenges such as staffing shortages and differences in  cost of living.

If you are interested in a recording of the webinar, register here and the recording will be shared. To learn how accurate documentation can help your health system navigate these unexpected challenges, contact Iodine at info@iodinesoftware.com.