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The Role of a Physician Advisor

Given the heightened focus on documentation and impacts to healthcare organizations from both a financial and quality perspective, it is imperative that clinical documentation improvement (CDI) leaders implement an effective strategy to develop a physician advisor program. The success of a CDI physician advisor program hinges upon defining the physician advisor’s role.

A physician advisor should support a CDI program in the following 4 key areas.

Act as a Liaison for the Department:

Physician advisors can leverage their clinical experience, position, and understanding of documentation concepts to support the CDI specialist with clinical reviews, help communicate with physicians, and act as a resource for the CDI specialist, coder and clinician.

Facilitate Physician Engagement:

A physician advisor should facilitate physician engagement by helping colleagues understand the ‘why’ behind CDI and serving on hospital committees related to both clinical practice and quality, for example.

Assist with Query Escalation:

A successful physician advisor understands and assists when necessary with query escalation when a query remains open and the CDI specialist has exhausted all avenues to close the query.

Provide CDI Education:

Physician advisors should review CDI performance metrics to identify education topics and deliver ongoing education to physicians. A physician advisor should also create facility specific clinical definitions or diagnostic criteria on relevant diagnoses and disseminate such information to providers (e.g. via provider tip cards).

A successful CDI physician advisor will perform all 4 key activities to support the CDI program.

Need help establishing CDI education and training at your facility? UASI has helped our clients across the country with CDI programs. Contact us at to get started.