Integrating CDI Efforts Across Inpatient and Outpatient – HIM Scene

This post is part of the HIM Series of blog posts. If you’d like to receive future HIM posts in your inbox, you can subscribe to future HIM Scene posts here.

One of the main topics HIM professionals have been discussing for a couple years is around CDI (Clinical Documentation Improvement). These programs have taken all sorts of shapes and sizes. Some are completely human driven. Others are largely tech driven, but most are a mix of the two. In fact, most CDI programs have gotten quite sophisticated and are really impacting the bottom line of healthcare organizations.

While most healthcare organizations realize that there are benefits to CDI, most of them have restricted these programs to the inpatient environment only. This was illustrated to me really well when I ran into a transcription vendor from India. It was his first time attending AHIMA and he was considering new areas of business including CDI. When we talked about CDI, his first comment was that he’d only ever seen CDI in hospitals, not in the ambulatory world.

While this is the case today, one HIM expert at AHIMA told me that one of the next big frontiers for CDI is going to be outpatient CDI. She went on to tell me that it’s fertile ground that could really benefit every healthcare organization. However, she also suggested that there shouldn’t be two CDI programs: 1 for inpatient and 1 for outpatient. Instead, CDI should be an integrated effort across inpatient and outpatient.

Clinical documentation improvement is only going to become more important in healthcare. Certainly, most CDI projects were started as a way to improve reimbursement. That’s a good goal and a benefit of a high quality CDI project. However, over time CDI is going to become even more important to an organization’s value based reimbursement efforts. In fact, if your clinical documentation isn’t accurate your reimbursement will really suffer. How can you keep a patient healthy if you’ve documented the wrong information for a patient?

How is your organization approaching CDI? Are you doing CDI in both inpatient and outpatient?

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About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.