Clinical Data Collection: The Top Steps for MDS Accuracy, and Greater Reimbursements – Part Two in a Series

Jayne Warwick, RN, HBScN, AWCN
Solutions Specialist – Marketing, PointClickCare

In our last piece we talked about how important it is to get the MDS right and how you might be at risk of leaving money on the table.  Now, we’ll look at some areas of the operation that aren’t always top of mind when we consider common financial pitfalls providers should look out for.

Staff Turnover

Beyond the basics of submitting an MDS and making sure your documentation is solid, most senior care organizations share the constant struggle of staff turnover.  This is a tough industry and the work of a caregiver is hard.  It’s physical and emotional.  Caregivers can make or break our success.  We count on them to lovingly care for people whose families entrust us with their parents, spouses, grandparents and other loved ones.    

Staff turnover is a financial drain that can be prevented. 

CNAs and nurses leave organizations for many reasons.  Not enough time with residents, lack of empowerment, outdated technology, too much time charting on paper, are just a few examples. 

The staff-resident relationship is central to quality care.  Staff gets to know residents and care for them better when they have a lasting relationship.  Each develops trust, establishes preferences and finds comfort in a familiar face. 

Staff changes can cause resident dissatisfaction. While a new caregiver is adjusting to the organization, delivery of care may be less consistent. A resident’s perception of the quality of care may be influenced simply because the new caregiver is “different” or “new”.

Keeping staff satisfied is less expensive than onboarding new hires. New staff requires training and time to become familiar with resident care, policies and procedures.

There are several ways to improve morale.  Electronic charting is one thing that helps address many areas of dissatisfaction.  Not only does it allow a staff member to have up to date, accurate information at their fingertips, but it also empowers them to be better informed when talking with families and residents. Communication is clearer and more efficient.

Like it or not, it’s an electronic age and the upcoming workforce expects technology to enable their work.  Recruiting the best and the brightest just got tougher. 

Quality of care is directly impacted by prompt, accurate alerts letting staff know there’s a change in care. Remember, caregivers didn’t go to school to do paperwork.  They went to school to care for people.  Automating documentation allows them to spend more time with residents and less time on administrative tasks. 

Census Management

There’s more competition for admissions than there was 10 years ago.  It’s not just the facilities across town you have to compete with.  Assisted living and home health services are now caring for residents that we might have admitted to skilled care just a few years ago.  Filling beds is one thing, but making sure we manage care to keep them filled is the second part of census management that operators often overlook.

Collecting data prior to admission is a great help in aligning your resources appropriately and verifying insurance coverage before the resident arrives at your facility.  Getting paid for the care you provide is never as easy as it sounds.  Having tools to regularly check insurance eligibility can save a lot of time and help you get paid faster.  Don’t wait for “Mrs. Smith’s daughter” to remember to call you when she changes her mom’s insurance plan.

Marketing, in Senior Care?

Yes!  You can no longer expect new admissions to flood your doorstep.  You need to keep close tabs on referral sources and cultivate them.  Market your organization. Tell partners why they should send you admissions.  You’re a high quality facility with top-notch staff.  Tell everyone!  But, don’t expect everyone to take your word for it.  Be ready with data that proves it. 

Think every hospital wants to send you new admissions?  Are you sure?  Keep track and know exactly where referrals come from and stay in touch.  Know what information motivates your referral partners.  Is it quality outcomes or how often you send residents back to the hospital, or both?  Do you have tools that help you reduce the risk of re-hospitalization? 

Do your area hospitals expect you to send and receive information electronically?  Or, do you just hand the paramedic a pile of paper on their way out the door?  These don’t sound like marketing topics, but steady, reliable referral sources need to be nurtured and cared for.

Technology Matters

It’s not a mystery that technology makes us more efficient.  Just ask the teenager who can’t be more than three feet from their mobile device for two minutes.  Technological tools can help us better run our businesses.  They help keep staff happy, allowing them to do what they love – care for residents.  Technology helps us track our census, keeping beds filled with residents whose care we manage at the highest level of quality.  Technology also helps us tell our story.  We’re a great nursing home – just look at our data.

On Demand Webinar – Reimbursement Bootcamp

If you are interested in learning more about strategies for optimizing your reimbursement, view our on demand webinar, Reimbursement Bootcamp. This one-hour session discusses the common challenges that senior care organizations face when trying to maximize their reimbursement. Access the webinar now.

Jayne Warwick is an RN with almost 30 years of experience in LTC in both US and Canada and has been a floor nurse, DON, Corporate Clinical Consultant, Director of Quality and Director of Operations for both small and large LTC chains. Over the past ten years with PointClickCare, Jayne has worked with homes throughout North America to more effectively improve business operations and quality of care while optimizing reimbursements through the implementation and use of EHR. Jayne has extensive industry and regulatory knowledge for initiatives such as EHR, Vendor Certification, MDS 3.0 and QAPI. Jayne is now the Solutions Specialist (SME) for PointClickCare Marketing team and a steadfast champion and advocate for PointClickCare customers.

Topics: Articles , MDS/RAI , Technology & IT