Podcast recap: Helping physicians to engage with CDI
by Jess Fluegel
Physician engagement ranks as one of the top challenges ACDIS members face, according to ACDIS’ annual membership survey. Industry surveys have showed a promising upward trajectory concerning physician engagement, but the pandemic certainly was a setback to this progress. According to the 2020 CDI Week Industry Survey, 20.42% of respondents said their physicians were highly engaged; in 2021, only 14.44% gave the same answer. There are many potential reasons for this, but one major factor is the transition from face-to-face engagement to remote.
Pre-pandemic CDI work was often on-site and CDI professionals tried to approach physicians during rounding, lunches, and even after-hours, according to Anne Espinoza, RN, BSN, CCDS, CDIP, the enterprise director for the clinical documentation and denials management team at Froedtert & Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, on the May 11, 2022, episode of the ACDIS Podcast. Though that face-to-face time was lost with the advent of remote work, it also opened different opportunities for engagement and education.
“[Before 2020] CDI professionals were limited in working set hospital or business hours,” Espinoza explained. “We thought we were being helpful, but we didn’t realize that the times we were approaching them might not have been the best for them.”
Espinoza wasn’t a big fan of remote work at first, and there was some trial and error to make the new arrangement work for her department. But now Espinoza’s team has been able to collaborate with groups at times more convenient for that audience, increasing flexibility and therefore engagement. Instead of having to rush the conversation to get the point across while the physician is simultaneously doing other tasks, remote work has allowed the team to have conversations at times that are more conducive to the providers.
In the end, whether delivered remotely or on-site, good education and engagement will show results. “Our goal is to decrease query rates with our education,” Espinoza said. “So, if we are including the right information to the providers, we're hoping that that carries forward in their documentation.”
After delivering education, the CDI team periodically checks the metrics to make sure each service line or physician group stays on track. Espinoza’s team groups data by service lines and then presents it to the service line leaders and providers responsible for those areas. In giving feedback, her biggest go-to is transparency. “Clarity is kindness,” Espinoza said.
When needed, they do leverage physician advisors and champions, but strategically. Espinoza’s team always asks the question, “Who can our team partner with to make this successful?” and then selects that provider to strike up a conversation.
“Our physician advisors are very engaged and active,” Espinoza said. The physician advisors must have buy-in and feel engaged for this partnership to work, she explained, especially since advisors are striking up conversations with physicians that the CDI team was unable to engage successfully.