ACDIS tip: Retaining top CDI staff members takes creativity

CDI Strategies - Volume 13, Issue 46

by Johanne Brautigam, RN, BSN, CCDS, and Mindy Davis, RHIT, CDIP, CCS, CCDS

CDI management has to be creative when it comes to staff retention.

Consider what it costs to train a CDI specialist. Most of the time, CDI specialists are hired with no experience. To start, they likely need up to three months of training and oversight. This can get costly, as it can add up to $15,000 in salary for those 12 weeks coupled with a potential reduced query impact and return on investment throughout that training time period.

Add to that a formal education class, which can run around $1,500. Remote staff may need a new computer, that could cost $1,500 as a starter. They may need a company-affiliated cell phone so that they can communicate with providers which could cost $600. The various books and guides can cost about $500. If the CDI specialist was hired at a $65,000 salary, the costs really start to add up.

This makes staff retention very important. In addition to the money it takes to train someone new, it is always more efficient to have a team who is familiar to your providers. But how do you keep seasoned staff from jumping ship?

  • Money: Raises help staff feel valued. To make the case for better pay, leverage benchmarking data found on the ACDIS site, specifically within the annual CDI Salary Survey and work with the HR department to inquire about grade increases. (By the way, the 2019 survey is now open so lend your voice to this important data-gathering effort.)
  • Remote work: Allowing staff members to work part of the time from home is a huge employee satisfier. Build systems for handling physician education and education to ensure this transition goes smoothly.
  • Work hours: Varying shift times can help specialists have a better work-life balance, especially if they have children at home. Try a pilot for a month or two to determine what hours work best for CDI staff members and for the physicians they communicate with.
  • Education: Invest in continuing education opportunities for your CDI team, including education about regulatory and clinical updates. Allow them paid time leave to attend local chapter events, webinars, or coding seminars. Encourage staff to pursue certifications and celebrate those who become certified.
  • Comradery: Make CDI fun and encourage staff members to bounce ideas off one another, sharing their expertise. Use CDI Week as a jumping off point for your celebrations and develop human connections among your staff members.

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from the brand-new ACDIS book, The CDI Director’s Cut: A Guide for Effective Program Management.