The internet brings information to our fingertips, and CDI and HIM information is no exception. There is a plethora of data on risk adjustment and for those who desire to learn, it is possible to learn everything you need to be successful at risk adjustment for free. There are, however, a few recommended rules to govern your education.
It is important to understand that you can’t google “free course on risk adjustment” and an entire multi-module course will be at your disposal… at least not yet. However, there are several good resources for different types of learners.
Jump in with Both Feet
One good starting place is to search for risk adjustment and seek out the official sources first. You might be wary of reading a CMS document because those documents are traditionally quite large. I urge you to jump in with both feet and don’t shy away from CMS because it is a large website…they have developed some user friendly documents that explain the topic(s) very well. That said; don’t feel discouraged if you have to read the documents multiple times.
Take the Time to Obtain Good Information
This will take time; I’m unable to minimize that point. There is a growing amount of information on the internet related to this topic and while most of it is good, you will undoubtedly run across sub-par or dated information along your journey, and sifting the good from the bad takes time. You don’t want to arm yourself with outdated or erroneous information when you emerge from your self-education journey so allow yourself time to sort through it.
Even though you might prefer to learn via reading vs watching a video, you will feel more secure in the information you are gathering if you look at all of the available media.
One often missed media for resources is YouTube. There are great videos on risk adjustment available on YouTube…and there are not so great videos on risk adjustment to be found on YouTube. It is true that anyone can sit in front of their computer and record a video, and this is also found with higher level educational topics as well. The good news is that the title, length, and number of views will give you a good indication of the value offered, but you may also be misled into believing what appears to be official information by who appears to be credible sources. If that happens, you will likely know within the first 5 minutes whether this is the right video for you, and at least you aren’t wasting your time!
We all have it…that sixth sense that gives us the feeling that something is amiss; you only have to be aware. As you begin to read article after article, and watch video after video, you will likely see the same content repeated. Repeated content + a seemingly credible source are usually good enough for most people to take that information as the truth and go forth with that belief. My biggest tip is to confirm everything you read/watch that gives you that feeling with an official source. My go-to for credible sources is CMS and the coding guidelines. CMS provides credible information on risk adjustment and documentation requirements, and the ICD-10-CM official coding guidelines are important to adhere to because risk adjustment applies diagnosis codes (ICD-10-CM), not procedure codes (CPT, HCPCS, PCS). You must adhere to the official guidelines if you are assigning ICD-10-CM codes; therefore, it would behoove you to know most of the guidelines plus have a coding book handy to look up those that are referred to less frequently.
Following this blueprint can yield the results you seek – conclusive, credible and timely information on risk adjustment in general, and/or information on specific risk adjustment models, such as CMS-HCCs. Jump in and enjoy learning!
Karen Newhouser, RN, BSN, CCM, CCDS, CCS, CDIP
Director of Education