What’s the Impact of the Great Resignation on Your Hospital’s CDI Team?

by | Mar 25, 2022

It’s not clear that the Great Resignation has hit CDI teams. But here’s what is clear: Budgets are tight and many CDI directors are bumping up salaries to address CDI staffing challenges.

And this insight from the ACDIS 2021 CDI Salary Survey adds another level of complexity: “While salaries tend to be consistent with a region’s cost of living, that landscape may change as more and more CDI programs transition to 100% or partially remote teams and incorporate staff members from out of state.”

But my larger point is this: Continuing to bump up salaries isn’t financially sustainable for the long term. And it won’t endear you to your CFO.

Still, the CDI staffing challenge remains. Most CDI directors don’t have many “soft” benefits to offer. That’s because most CDI specialists already have the flexibility to work from home as often as three days a week.

This reality sets up a challenge for CDI directors who want to run a steady department for the months and years ahead, while driving clinical documentation improvement efforts. And it leads me to ask a question:

  • What’s one tool a CDI director can use that will satisfy the CFO and the VP of revenue cycle management, in addition to the CMO and the HIM director?
    It’s the retrospective review of charts.

Let’s talk about three realities that require you to make changes to your clinical documentation improvement strategy right now.

1. With COVID-19, revenue streams associated with elective surgeries shifted.

Hopefully, the worst of the pandemic is behind us–that’s certainly not under my control. My question to you is this: Have you considered the value of a retrospective review of charts program on your hospital’s bottom line?

Here’s one reason you should: Hospitals across the country lost more than $99 million in net revenue during the first five months of the COVID-19 pandemic–or a $636,952 median net revenue loss per month per division, according to the American College of Surgeons.

Making up the surgical backlog–and the lost income–since the start of the pandemic has been a challenge for hospitals.

That’s why our clients turn to us: Accuity is the safety net that uses a triad of reviewers, which includes a physician, an expert coder, and a clinical documentation specialist, to ensure that all codes tell a clinically accurate story.

Before working with Accuity, many of our clients were leaving millions of dollars on the table each year.

2. The CDI staffing shortage is here to stay.

An article in Harvard Business Review found that 3.6% more healthcare workers quit their jobs in 2021 than in the previous year.

I don’t need to tell you about budget constraints or the reality that attracting and retaining talented CDI specialists is tough–not to mention that it can take as long as 6 months to fully onboard a new colleague.

To focus on the dollars and cents: According to the ACDIS 2021 CDI Salary Survey, most CDI professionals received a 2% to 3% raise in 2020.

But beyond salaries, according to ACDIS, the cost to train a new CDI specialist is $2,000. Keep in mind, that doesn’t include recruiting costs or the time coworkers spend training their new colleague.

Some advice from the writers of the HBR article: Healthcare leaders need to determine the impact of these resignations on key business metrics.

Also, what walks out the door along with your former employees are their skill sets, institutional knowledge, and relationships with doctors and nurses. At least in the short term, you can expect lower productivity from the new CDI specialists you hire. That leads me to ask another question:

  • What’s the impact of CDI specialists’ resignations on your bottom-line revenue?
    With a robust retrospective review of charts program in place, you pick up dollars that are typically left on the table. An additional benefit? You give new CDI specialists a little extra time to get trained and fully contribute to the CDI team–and your hospital.

Here are three benefits of a robust retrospective review of charts program that will appeal to the CFO and the VP of revenue cycle management:

1. A proven, hefty return on investment
2. Cash flow positive from day one
3. Minimized revenue leakage

3. Physicians are burned out.

We don’t need to add to their stress; we need to focus on clinical documentation improvement, which supports physicians in providing excellent patient care.

Let’s look at the numbers: According to Medscape, 47% of physicians reported feeling burned out in 2021. That’s up from 42% in 2020. The American Medical Association says one way to reduce burnout is to reduce administrative burdens.

That’s where a robust retrospective review of charts program can help. It means you can be even more thoughtful about deciding when you need to go back to a physician with a question about a patient record.

Our clients rely on Accuity to provide education to providers based on individual hospital needs by analyzing query data. This analysis is often used by our clients when they develop tools in their EHR, such as note templates or provider reminders.

Here are two benefits of a robust retrospective review of charts program that will appeal to the CMO and the HIM director:

1. Added clinical experts who are “on your team,” so your physicians can spend less time reviewing previous documentation
2. More accurate, complete, and compliant clinical documentation

With Accuity, you have access to our team’s clinical expertise to boost your clinical documentation improvement efforts. That helps ensure you’re only reaching out to your busy doctors when it’s really important.

Your doctors entered the healthcare field because they want to treat patients. With a robust retrospective review of charts program, you’re supporting them and your hospital’s bottom line.

Learn more about Accuity’s physician-led clinical documentation integrity solution.


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