Mitigation of payment losses is a primary concern to the entire MDS team. The administrator’s support for solid teamwork and strong systems within the MDS department is critical to avoiding common scheduling pitfalls. Following are some strategies for achieving success in this area.
  • Have a daily stand-up meeting. Improving communication between therapists and MDS nurses is critical to avoiding payment loss. If the Medicare caseload is more than five residents, it is recommended that facility staff have a daily “stand-up” meeting. They can do this by using the resident roster to review the resident’s Medicare information while—literally—standing up.
  • Don’t hit the send button so fast! The team can use more time than they are accustomed to using and cross-check accuracy of the MDS record, while corrections can be made without penalty, before the record is submitted to the Quality Improvement and Evaluation Service-Assessment Submission and Processing system. To minimize errors, CMS recommends that MDS teams utilize the 14-day coding period and the seven-day encoding period allowable by federal regulation.
  • Make a habit of scheduling MDS assessments separately, together! If the facility’s software has limitations for flexibility and managing the nuances of assessment scheduling requirements, it is necessary for each team member to keep a separate schedule either by hand, on Excel, or in another software process such as the therapy software. It is critical that both the therapy department and the MDS scheduler keep track of the assessment schedule. They can then compare their separate schedules at the daily meetings to ensure that End of Therapy, Change of Therapy, and other assessments are not missed and that their schedules match.
  • Have a trained back-up. Errors occur because the MDS scheduler does not have a trained back-up. The MDS scheduling system should be well-defined, and multiple team members should be able to use it. Instead of relying on one clinician to understand all the scheduling rules, facilities are best served by having team members cross-trained and contributing to scheduling accuracy.