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A conversation with Laurie Prescott, CDI Education Director for HCPro


*Laurie L. Prescott, RN, MSN, CCDS, CDIP, CRC, CCDS-O is CDI Education Director at HCPro.

As an acknowledged industry authority in healthcare compliance for over 30 years, HCPro delivers information, education, training and consulting products and services that meet the specialized needs of the healthcare industry. Its team of renowned CDI educators, led by Laurie Prescott, have applied their substantial clinical and coding experience to the design of an electronic query template library for Artifact Health. The library provides compliant templates and process guidance so healthcare facilities can better capture the true complexity of their patient population.

HCPro and Artifact Health have partnered to provide hospitals with a mobile physician query platform that utilizes a library of electronic query templates developed and maintained by HCPro/ACDIS experts. We spoke with Laurie about the impact of COVID-19 on U.S. hospitals and the importance of clinical documentation improvement efforts at this time.

COVID-19 has caused unprecedented turmoil for hospitals in major cities across the U.S. at capacity with healthcare providers working overtime to triage and treat patients.

Why is proper coding of patient hospital stays important right now?
Many people associate proper coding with hospital reimbursement. However, during a pandemic coding actually plays a much more significant role in understanding how deadly diseases quickly spread from country to country, like Ebola, SARS and now COVID-19.

So yes, proper coding of COVID-19 will be important for hospitals to stay afloat financially – to get reimbursed for all of the services they are performing and to apply for funding from the government to keep them in business. But, the coding of COVID-19 will be more critical for statistical reasons and advancing the study of the disease to hopefully prevent similar outbreaks in the future.

How does the coding of patient data inform public health decisions?
The fact is, ICD-10 codes were designed for epidemiological purposes – to track, report and better understand public health diseases.

Public health officials and scientists look at coded patient data to better understand and tell the story of exactly how diseases are spread, the symptoms and complications, the underlying conditions that influenced outcomes, the impact on age groups and gender, how many people died and how the outbreak compares country to country.

The rapid spread and high mortality associated with COVID-19 is further underscoring the importance of capturing codes correctly.

How important are Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI) initiatives during COVID?
During a crisis or a pandemic like COVID-19 the hospital’s CDI team becomes even more essential. Increased patient encounters and disease information must be captured and coded correctly to keep the hospital solvent and provide accurate data for research studies and pandemic modeling.

Healthcare providers must have guidance around properly documenting COVID-19 patients and the complications that arise from the disease which can have broad or vague symptoms, such as respiratory issues. CDI teams are the educators. We ensure that providers have the information they need to document accurately for proper coding.

How is HCPro/ACDIS helping hospitals right now?
We are supporting hospitals with guidance on documenting COVID-19. We have developed a compliant COVID-19 physician query template which helps increase the specificity and accuracy of the symptoms and complications resulting from the disease. This new COVID-19 template is available to the hospitals we work with, and we are grateful this type of information can be used by physicians, public health officials and researchers to more accurately map the disease and its widespread impact.

Through our partnership with Artifact Health hospitals can utilize our full library of compliant CDI physician query templates. Our library is kept compliant and updated for our hospitals to incorporate new coding guidelines as well as new diseases, like COVID-19.