Outpatient CDI Specialists (especially with CCDS-O certification) Are in Demand

By Brian Murphy

Where are all the CCDS-Os?

That’s Certified Clinical Documentation Specialist—Outpatient.

Outpatient CDI and risk adjustment are exploding. I know this because our clients are building and expanding their programs, and on the hunt for individuals possessing this rare credential. Of which there’s only a few hundred operating in the wild.

You want to increase your career prospects? Get CCDS-O certified.

Note: I have no ongoing affiliation with ACDIS. I did help get the CCDS-O off the ground “back in the day” and I love the content domains and exam. But those days are in the past. Ancient history.

The CCDS-O exam as I knew it was difficult, but fair. And the committee who developed it was excited. They knew it was needed.

But the credential was also ahead of its time. There were very few OP CDI programs operating back in 2017/18.

Today? Different story. Medicare Advantage now covers more than half of the eligible population (see associated graphic). Risk adjustment and pay-for-performance is slowly but steadily eroding fee-for-service, and CMS-HCCs gaining prominence over MS-DRGs.

Traditional inpatient CDI review work as reflected in the CCDS has some carryover to this type of work. But I can tell you, employers looking for a good OP CDI specialist want to be sure, and the best way is with a credential. A CRC will open doors, too.

I’ve always had a bit of a mixed relationship with credentials.

I think there is justified criticism of credential farms. They don’t measure soft skills well. Do we need a credential to justify each one of our hard-earned skills? Also, it’s a little tiring to constantly be on the hunt for CEUs.

Credentials are no guarantee of success—it’s still the person, not the credential, that matters in the end.

But, I’ve made my peace with them. Certifications provide a clear designation of competence. They open the door.

Get that CCDS-O!

Since I posted this piece on LinkedIn I received many comments echoing the value of the credential. Here’s a sample:

  • I’ve found this credential very beneficial when educating providers and seeing patients myself! It’s helped me validate my diagnoses better in my documentation and definitely improve the overall quality of my documentation.
  • The CCDS-O is absolutely the best mark of competence and provides a solid foundation in risk adjustment and pay-for-performance. The test was… well… “fun” and covered a large area within its five-core competencies, but it really ensured a baseline knowledge. It truly is a mark of excellence for CDI professionals.
  • The most comprehensive OPCDI credential there is, encompassing risk adjustment, diagnosis, ProFee coding plus the domain knowledge of CDI, and compliance. Nothing compares.

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