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SNFs repond to the new MDS-focused survey process

August 25, 2015
by Megan Combs, Associate Editor
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The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' (CMS) launch of the MDS Focused Survey means a new way of surveying nursing homes. Surveyors are taking a harder look at documentation and the delivery of activities of daily living (ADL) services--including interviewing direct-care workers.

Harmony Healthcare International, a healthcare consulting firm based in Topsfield, Mass., conducted a survey of its clients to learn what experiences skilled nursing facilities (SNFs) are having with the MDS assessment.

Overall, most clients found the survey process to be positive, said Harmony Healthcare President and CEO Kris Mastrangelo in a press release. "Most providers called the survey an informative and helpful process."

So what did Harmony's clients see when the CMS surveyors came to town?

  • Surveyors are checking medical records AND interviewing direct-care staff to see if levels of assistance for ADLs match the documentation.
  • Survey timeframes are now shorter, usually lasting two to three days.
  • They're getting around: The surveyors are still reviewing medical records, but they're also walking around asking questions about potential quality of care issues.
  • Beyond the MDS, surveyors are also looking for areas that may affect patient care. Deficiencies found during the survey will result in citations and enforcement.
  • Surveyors want access to your electronic medical records (EMR). Staff should be prepared and know how to work the system, including knowing where to find specific information.
  • The surveyors usually do not welcome questions during the MDS assessment process, but they do provide a toll-free number and refer provider questions to the helpline.

"It is clear our governing bodies, as well as families and loved ones, want to know which nursing homes can take the best care of those they love," Curriculum Development Specialist for the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination Lisa Hohlbein wrote in a recent Long-Term Living article.  "The dilemma is how that information is measured and communicated to the public, knowing that it will be data-driven only and without any emotion or love attached to it."

Holhlbein shares ways to prepare for the MDS Focused Survey here.

Related articles:

Getting ready for the new MDS Focused Survey

Getting ready for assessment data and the IMPACT Act