CCS for CDI: 4 Important Reasons Why CDIS Should Consider the CCS Coding Credential

by Mary Beth York, CCS, CCS-P, CIC

CDIS are key team members of any hospital’s revenue cycle operation. CDIS ensure that the provider’s documentation captures all clinical information completely and accurately. The documentation must then be translated into codes in accordance with the conventions of the classification and the Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting, in order to be processed for data and billing purposes.

The revenue cycle function is critically important to the viability of our hospitals. CDIS with that extra knowledge of coding can provide significant value to their employer.

There are several reasons why a CDIS should consider earning their CCS:

1. The process of preparing for the CCS requires in-depth review of ICD-10-CM, ICD-10-PCS, and CPT code sets. This in-depth knowledge of coding helps CDIS to efficiently evaluate existing documentation for improvement opportunities that will have the greatest impact on coding accuracy and specificity.

2. The conventions of the classification and Official Guidelines for Coding and Reporting dictate how ICD-10-CM and ICD-10-PCS codes are assigned. Detailed knowledge and recall of the conventions of the classification systems and the guidelines that govern its application are key to CCS exam success as well as CDIS efficacy.

3. Coders and CDIS are on the same team but maintain different objectives in relation to documentation. Communication and a strong working relationship between the CDIS and coder are vital. CDIS that are also CCS can bridge the communication gap and provide important insight to both functions.

4. The success of inpatient CDI programs has encouraged some hospitals to expand the role of the CDI Specialist to outpatient services (surgical day care, emergency room, radiology, etc.) as well. Many CDIS, as second career clinicians, have little knowledge or experience of CPT coding. The level of CPT knowledge necessary for CCS exam success will position these CDIS with the CPT skills needed as the CDI function pushes further into outpatient services.

Having worked with hundreds of coders to achieve their Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) coding credential, I am increasingly approached by individual, clinically-skilled, Clinical Documentation Improvement Specialists (CDIS) to assist with mastering the intricacies of inpatient and outpatient coding as they prepare to earn their CCS coding credential. I have also worked with entire CDI teams — HIM directors with responsibility for the CDI function are often the first to see the value in increased coding proficiency among their CDIS.


Now taking applications for the CCS Exam Prep: CCS for CDI
Designed specifically for CDI professionals, this highly-acclaimed program prepares candidates to sit for AHIMA’s Certified Coding Specialist (CCS) credential exam. Online lectures, presentations, and practice exams with weekly live instructor-led virtual class sessions to provide a thorough review of the materials. Our nationally renowned CCS exam instructor, Mary Beth York, provides individual mentoring and coaching with proven test-taking strategies that have helped hundreds to achieve CCS success. Learn more here.

About the Author

Mary Beth York, CCS, CCS-P, CIC
Mary Beth York has over twenty year's experience in coding, auditing and documentation improvement for hospitals ranging from community to teaching hospitals as well as physician group practices. Mary Beth is the author of Libman Education's highly successful CCS Exam Prep course, as well as Libman Education's highly successful CCA Exam Review course. 

3 thoughts on “CCS for CDI: 4 Important Reasons Why CDIS Should Consider the CCS Coding Credential

  1. Connie Hickman - November 24, 2019 at 3:14 pm

    I am an RN and CCRN have worked as a Registered nurse for 29 years. I have 14 years in ICU-CCU, charge RN. Float RN for 5 years and the last 10 years as a Nursing Supervisor all my experience is in the hospital setting. I am looking for a CDI job and want some direction on where to start? I have had many classes involving work w discharge planners as a hospital supervisor we get our workout covering all areas when directors are unavailable. Please advise me how I might get started on my new interest. Thanks

    • Libman Education - November 27, 2019 at 3:27 am

      Connie – Thank you for your note. Nice to hear from you!

      CDI is a great “next career” for nurses and we have an excellent program to help you get started: CDI Essential Skills provides foundational CDI education paired with a review of core compliance and ethical principles. Candidates who pass the final exam receive a certificate of completion and may designate themselves as an ACDIS-Approved CDI Apprentice. (see:

  2. Tori Raddison - December 3, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    I like how you said that communication and a strong working relationship between CDIS and coders is important because working together will make everything a lot easier. I think that a strong working relationship between any two groups in the field is important to keep everything running smoothly. Besides, it can never hurt to have additional knowledge that might help you down the line.