iStock_000012148264XSmall-150x150Many providers have CDI programs. The belief is that more accurate, detailed clinical documentation is better for the patient, the institution, the government, researchers, and all aspects of quality of care. So why not have an improvement program for the improvement program?

Too many CDI programs focus on the short-term goals of reduced denials and fewer queries only for those DRGs and types of cases payers are reviewing today. But a truly visionary CDI program takes a much longer-term view of both the areas for documentation improvement and the ability  for programs to achieve a return on investment.

Certainly, CDI programs should focus on current areas of weakness that are impacting cash flow, but with a focus on the longer-term goals; like successfully implementing ICD-10 and building the framework for strong documentation practices that will support future  upgrades to coding systems.Quality initiatives and pay for performance seem to be gaining traction as healthcare initiatives, which would also benefit from better, more accurate documentation. Looking forward to incorporate these programs into today’s CDI initiatives gives providers time for a methodical, transition to any new reimbursement model – not to mention solid quality data and business intelligence to make better, long-term decisions.

Trying to jam change into the last minute is a formula for mediocrity. You get done the absolute minimum needed to meet a program’s needs but you never reap the upside benefits that these programs present.

Your CDI initiative is a living process that should be proactive to future needs, not reactive. Preventative medicine is always preferred to illness intervention. Make sure your CDI program has an oversight group charged with improving the improvement program. While ICD-10 and the many other initiatives in healthcare seem to be overwhelming, a successful CDI program can greatly smooth the road to change.