Reflecting on CDI 2023 - Harnessing Momentum: A Turning Point for Clinical Documentation Improvement (CDI)

As I sat on the plane on my return flight home from the Gold Coast, I couldn't help but feel a sense of pride and elation to be a part of something so exciting and significant. My mind was still buzzing from the conference, which was brimming with the energy of resolute healthcare professionals. The collective passion and commitment we all shared for the advancement of CDI remained fresh in my mind, as though the conference had imprinted and reinforced a sense of purpose directly onto my thoughts.CDI is still a budding discipline in healthcare. Just a few years ago, in 2016-17 in Australia, the first glimmers of CDI programs began to appear in our hospitals. The momentum was palpable, but then, 2020 happened. The COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the works, stalling much of the progress we had made. In addition to the lifting of restrictions, last year's conference, CDI 2022 Building Resilience, served as a catalyst, sparking the rejuvenation of our halted momentum. We saw an uptick in the number of Clinical Documentation Specialists (CDSs) and new hospital-based CDI programs sprouting across Australia.

This year's conference felt like a homecoming, a seminal event akin to a gathering of old friends who share a deep, meaningful connection. The reality for many CDI professionals is one of working in relative isolation within our healthcare institutions. That's why the CDI conference serves as such an important conduit, allowing us to come together as a 'tribe.' Being 'amongst our own people'—those passionate about elevating clinical documentation for the sake of patient care—imbues a special richness into the event. The conference didn't just unify us; it galvanized our collective mission, leaving us energized and purpose driven.

The long list of program highlights makes pinpointing a select few difficult. I enjoyed hearing about the shift in culture at North Metropolitan Health Service in WA thanks driven by the collaboration between HIMs and CDSs and tackling clinician engagement head on. It was insightful to hear how Northern Health in Victoria were leveraging technology to improve their clinician engagement and query response rate by 78% and inspired by the CDI journey of the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, who went from being 41st on the national association severity ranking to 1st over a 10-year period, all whilst identifying USD$161m in additional hospital funding through its CDI program. Susan Pearse’s keynote on day 1 had us turning our focus to our ‘attention fitness’, being aware of our dominant distractions and providing easy methods on how to stay focused. I have already implemented 1-2 of these strategies in my day to day!


Whilst the Gold Coast weather (who would have thought!) caused a tangential shift of location of the networking event, it didn’t quell the abundance socialising. Coupled with a smorgasbord of food and drink was a number of novelty games which certainly got our competitive juices flowing, and served as further means of a strong social connection between delegates.

As heartening as it was to see the camaraderie and the mutual sharing of expertise, is no room for complacency in CDI when there is still so much untapped potential. There’s always room for improvement. The amount of information presented was overwhelming, and with concurrent sessions on day one, attendees had to make some tough choices. This glut of content speaks to the burgeoning complexity and depth of the CDI field, and the growing need for extended discussion time, perhaps over a greater timeframe, with dedicated workshops, panel discussions, and more opportunity for Q&A and networking.


So, where does this leave us for the future of CDI in ICD-10-AM countries, and should be next for the CDI Conference?

  • Could the conference evolve to include more interactive sessions and panels, allowing professionals to dig deep into real-world challenges and come out with tangible solutions?
  • How can the conference more effectively facilitate the sharing of best practices, particularly when it comes to standardising KPIs and program outcomes?
  • With the increasing globalisation of healthcare, should we aim to include more international perspectives in the next editions?
  • And, most crucially, how can this forum serve as a catalyst for elevating the quality of healthcare, ensuring patient safety, enhancing data integrity, and fostering the financial sustainability of our healthcare systems?

The success of CDI 2023 - Harnessing Momentum undeniably proves that we need this forum, now more than ever. However, as we return to our respective roles, let's ponder these questions. We are the custodians of an emerging field with the potential to reshape healthcare as we know it. The choices we make today will impact the legacy we leave behind. Let's make it a legacy of improvement, collaboration, and the relentless pursuit of clinical documentation excellence.


Mike Kertes, CDIA National Director

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