Harmony Healthcare Blog

Top 5 Ways to Attract and Retain a Good MDS Coordinator

Posted by The Harmony Team on Fri, Sep 05, 2014


Edited by Kris Mastrangelo

The position of MDS Coordinator has evolved from mere paper work compliance to a field of specialty in the Long Term Care field. It is no longer sufficient to be capable of completing MDS to remain in compliance with federal regulations. Today's savvy MDS coordinator has to remain in compliance, but also recognize opportunities to capture the highest reimbursement opportunities that the facility is entitled to.

How does a facility attract and retain a quality MDS Coordinator? Read these five tips to see how you can build a better team:

1. Provide Professional Respect: The MDS Coordinator is a specialty position in today's Long Term Care facility. You can choose to delegate the sections of the MDS to other members of your management team, but this may cause lost opportunities for financial reimbursement. Today's MDS Coordinator is able to recognize subtle details in the medical record that may yield a more accurate reimbursement rate for the care that your team has provided. She also may have suggestions for how the team can work together to take advantage of opportunities and fine-tune the delivery of services to support a more clinically accurate reimbursement rate. As such, the MDS Coordinator should be celebrated when additional efforts lead to financial successes for the team.

2.  Don't Sabotage MDS Work Load: When working in Long Term Care everybody pitches in to be sure that the resident is best served. Sometimes the MDS Coordinator will be called to work on the floor, help to pass medications, or supervise the clinical care of the residents. But don't use your MDS Coordinator as the ready-made fill in for any staffing shortages. Remember that the MDS work load continues to accumulate if the MDS Coordinator is working on MDS, or performing other duties on the floor. Allow your MDS Coordinator enough uninterrupted quiet time to carefully and thoughtfully complete the MDS assessment. Consider if working a weekend on call or Manager on Duty is beneficial for your team or not. Remember, the MDS Coordinator will likely not be able to take a day off during the week to make up for any weekend time that she has spent doing other duties. It is not to the facilities advantage to have an exhausted MDS Coordinator trying to complete "just one more assessment."

3.  Invest in Education and Training: Investing in training has a dual benefit. First, it makes the MDS Coordinator feel valued, because you chose to invest valuable facility resources in her training. Second, it keeps the MDS Coordinator fresh, current, and accurate in MDS completion. This is truly a win win situation!

4. Compensation Equal to Work: Compensation may or may not be an increase in salary.  Many employees recognize that a pay raise may not be feasible, due to other circumstances in your facility. Remember that the small things matter: a kind word, a nice parking space, buying lunch, or formal recognition through your employee recognition program are gestures that will mean a lot to your MDS Coordinator. A great MDS Coordinator is a very valuable commodity, and a MDS Coordinator who feels recognized for the hard work she does every day will be less likely to pursue other employment opportunities. Retention of a good MDS Coordinator has unmatched value!

5. Offer Constructive Feedback: No employee can determine if they are doing adequately in their position without accurate feedback--both good and bad. Furthermore, if your MDS Coordinator is missing the mark and failing to perform as you had hoped, it is critical that you offer constructive feedback. A performance improvement plan may be in order, or she may be able to identify barriers that she encounters that impede her ability to do her job best.  Expressing this feedback empowers the supervisor and the employee, and decreases subtle resentment that may develop as the result of the supervisor not feeling the employee is working to their best ability, and the employee feeling devalued and unheard. Offering constructive feedback allows both the supervisor and the employee to "clear the air" and make a plan for successful job completion in the future. 

The MDS Coordinator plays a key role in the LTC environment. The MDS 3.0 assessment is the sole data source for Quality Measure information, so errors in MDS coding can be disastrous.  Errors in MDS coding can lead to incorrect publicly reported information through the Nursing Home Compare website, as well as wreak havoc with the facility 5 Star Quality Rating System, which uses Quality Measures as one of its domains. The MDS 3.0 assessment is the first step of resident assessment and information gathering to create the individualized patient care plan.  The MDS 3.0 assessment also plays a critical role in accurate reimbursement for Medicare under the Prospective Payment System, and in some states Medicaid reimbursement through the Case Mix system.

Most importantly, your MDS Coordinator is a leader amongst the nursing staff. The MDS Coordinator typically does not have staff from the clinical nursing team reporting directly to her.  However, the MDS Coordinator is on the front lines, identifying documentation errors and trends that may lead to survey citations or inaccurate reimbursement. The MDS Coordinator is first in line to deliver critical education to the clinical staff to ensure that the level of care provided is fully supported in the documentation. Because the MDS Coordinator is a leader role, she is an important influence in how other staff perceives your facility. A satisfied MDS Coordinator, secure in the value that she brings to the facility, will have an overall positive impact on your staff morale.

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Tags: MDS 3.0, MDS Coordinator

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