The Critical Role of the MDS Coordinator for the Success of Your Facility

Over the years, the Minimum Data Set (MDS) has evolved beyond a clinical assessment tool. It is no longer “paperwork” that any nurse can fill in. Successful completion of the MDS requires complex expertise, exposure to the nursing home environment, knowledge of the MDS coding rules, awareness of the federal nursing home regulations, deep understanding of the Medicare and Medicaid payment systems and skill in assigning and managing ICD-10-CM diagnosis codes.

As you know, the MDS is the data collection tool for resident information abstracted from the medical record and shared with the federal and state governments, researchers and the public. The information is used for regulatory compliance reviews, state and federal care reimbursement, quality data collection and public reporting, and the development of a person-centered care plan.

It may not be a surprise that the job website Indeed has over 1,000 MDS Coordinator job postings and LinkedIn has 75,000 MDS Coordinator job listings or that the job website Zippia states that there are over “3,700 open MDS Coordinator job” vacancies in the U.S. and that the position is expected to “grow 12% by 2028.”

At this time, CMS shows no signs of replacing the job function of the MDS Coordinator, even if they follow through with replacing the MDS with another data collection tool. So, how will we fill these critical positions?

To support the ongoing success of the MDS Coordinator, It is important to ensure the following basic competencies:

  • Detailed knowledge of correct coding rules for the MDS and Care Area Assessments
  • Robust understanding of the Medicare PDPM payment classification system
  • Thorough familiarity with the Official Coding Guidelines for ICD-10-CM diagnosis coding
  • Command of the data used for Quality measures, the SNF Quality Reporting Program and Value-Based Purchasing
  • Exposure to the nursing home regulations and survey process
  • Comprehensive skill in the use of the organization’s electronic health record
Leadership Perspectives
  1. There is a tremendous need for MDS Coordinators throughout the U.S., which will continue to grow.
  2. In-depth clinical, coding and regulatory knowledge is a must in order to be a successful MDS Coordinator.
  3. Ongoing mentorship, training and support are vital to not only the MDS Coordinator but also the provider’s overall success.
As leaders, we have to offer nurses a clear path to the knowledge and skills they need. This can be accomplished by providing mentorship, ongoing training and support.
Pathway Health’s team of experts is available to support your organization. Contact us to learn more.

Karolee Withers, RN, RACT-CT
Director of Reimbursement and Clinical Consulting