partments. These candidates often require an additional skill or
knowledge development if the CDI position is outside their current
scope. For example, if a unit coordinator has completed their asso-ciate-level degree, is credentialed as a registered health information technician (RHIT), and demonstrates the skills to advance
into a CDI position, they still may need additional training on
the specifics of CDI.
There are also potential disadvantages to recruiting internal candidates, including the promotion of organizational cultural complacency, restricting the candidate pool, perpetuating poor performers, and constraining creative ideas.
Many organizations utilize external recruitment as a balance
to internal recruitment activities. Recruiting external candidates
facilitates new ideas and brings fresh candidates into the organization. It allows the organization to choose from a larger pool of
applicants. It also can lead to a more experienced and diverse
workforce, and can decrease training costs because the candidate comes into the organization with the skills and knowledge
required for the job with little or no development needed.
For example, if an external candidate holding the registered
health information administrator (RHIA), certified coding specialist (CCS), and certified documentation improvement practitioner (CDIP) credentials applies for a position in the CDI
department, they will come into the organization with specific,
required knowledge. For example, a candidate who is a registered
nurse (RN) may already hold a CCS credential and have case
Organizations should also consider the disadvantages of hiring
externally, as it is much more of an unknown for the organization.
Even with a solid recruitment effort, selection pool, and orientation process, new candidates are still relatively unknown. It can be
difficult to identify how they will fit with other staff members and
react in certain situations. External candidates—for example, an
experienced CDI professional—may find it difficult to adapt to a
new process. Adding in questions during the recruitment phase
regarding their comfort level with changes can help identify
those individuals who may struggle with the program’s structure. Candidate misplacements can cost the organization time
and financial resources.
Selecting the Right Employee
Prior to selecting employees for new positions, the organization
must decide if it is open to recruiting entry-level professionals
without CDI experience or if it prefers professionals with little-to-extensive CDI experience. It is also essential to define the format of the program—for example, in-house/onsite reviews vs.
offsite/remote reviews. There has been an upward trend in hybrid programs which are attractive to many candidates and allow for flexibility, increase employee satisfaction, and increase
productivity. Defining these parameters helps filter the candidate pool and streamlines the hiring process.
CDI is quickly expanding beyond the adult inpatient scope
to include outpatient, psychiatry, pediatrics, rehab, and same-
day surgeries/ambulatory care. This expansion is leading to the
need for specialized reviews and a mix of CDI staff who can ca-
ter to this growing need.
Recruiters often run into issues like information falsification
on resumes. When this occurs, the candidate may appear quali-
fied on paper but in reality, isn’t able to offer the expertise re-
quired to be successful in the CDI role. Recruiting and selecting
the right fit for any CDI program requires a careful and thought-
ful analysis of each prospective candidate to ensure the candi-
date can perform at the level required for the position.
Generally, to be successful in a CDI role, candidates must have
the clinical knowledge required to review a health record, the
ability to recognize deficiencies or gaps in documentation, and
strong critical/analytical thinking skills. Effective communication skills are of the utmost importance as well, because the
person in this role needs to be able to confidently converse with
providers and other team members. A candidate that possesses
these qualities would be ideal for a CDI program.
Optimal candidate selection has the potential to decrease employee turnover. Ultimately, a strong CDI professional can provide
a positive influence on the organization’s culture and program
effectiveness. In addition, successful selection will save the organization time and money during the orientation and training
Throughout the process of hiring a new employee, remember to
carefully assess the applicant’s fit with both the team and physicians. Utilizing experience and intellectual capabilities alone will not
guarantee an appropriate hire. The ability to seamlessly interact with
the team and communicate effectively with physicians is a strong indication of how well the CDI professional will integrate into the organization. To that end, it is important to ensure that final hiring
decisions remain under the hiring manager’s authority.
Candidates that are a good organizational fit may be extremely
difficult to find so staying flexible is important when making hiring decisions. Still, creating the right culture, maximizing the best
workers, and staying involved during the hiring process may not
fill every open position. In some instances, the right choice may
not be the person with long-term experience, but the person that
fits best with the team and culture of the organization. This may
mean hiring someone with less experience and committing to providing the necessary training and education to develop the skill set.
Selection begins with a preliminary application review and screening interview, which is usually conducted over the phone. This process eliminates candidates who do not meet the minimum eligibility criteria established by the organization. This process should
include a thorough review of the candidate’s application or resume, skill set, academic background, certifications, and work
Depending on the goals of the CDI program—whether looking to
hire trainees or experienced professionals—evaluation of a potential candidate may include identifying healthcare experience, prior experience in coding or other related work, and possession of
the CDIP/CCDS credential. Establishing these criteria will help
narrow down the pool of candidates.
The next step in the selection process may include specific