The nurse assessment coordinator’s (NAC’s) job is mentally taxing. There is so much to keep track of—assessment reference dates, when to complete an interim payment assessment, how the case-mix adjusted components impact the Patient-Driven Payment Model and reimbursement, how to code every section of the MDS, when to deliver beneficiary notices, what qualifies as a skilled level of care, the different Quality Measures, how MDS coding impacts Five-Star, and so much more. This blog will offer NACs working in long-term care tips to help offset the cognitive load of their jobs so they can steadily navigate their position without feeling overwhelmed.
1. Stay organized with a calendar and/or planner
The NAC should utilize a calendar or planner to schedule:
- OBRA and PPS assessment deadlines
- Care area assessment and care plan deadlines
- Weekly or more frequent MDS submissions and track MDS submission deadlines
- Physician certifications due dates
- Insurance and Medicare Advantage plan updates
- Daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly meetings
2. Reference the RAI User’s Manual daily
The RAI User’s Manual is currently 1,309 pages. NACs are not expected to memorize every word—the manual is available online as a reference and should be used daily to look up coding questions if needed.
3. Take advantage of tools as much as possible
Tools enable the NAC to do their job faster and in a more organized way. They also help consolidate or record information that would otherwise take up mental space.
For example, AAPACN offers members free downloadable tools created by nurse experts that can help with:
- Gathering MDS data and supporting documentation – MDS Data Collection for the NAC Tool
- Scheduling OBRA assessments – OBRA Scheduling Tools for Calendar Year 2022
- Understanding all the Quality Measures and their origins – At-a-Glance QM, QRP, and VBP Tool
- Deciding if the Interrupted Stay Policy criteria is met – Interrupted Stay Tracker Tool
- Scoring each component of the Patient-Driven Payment Model (PDPM) – PDPM At-A-Glance Tool
4. Don’t try to solve everything yourself – utilize your network
NACs may think they are alone in their job, but they do not need to solve all their problems by themselves! NACs should utilize communities of their peers to ask questions, seek tips and best practices, and build a support system they can go to when the job gets tough. AAPACN members have access to the AAPACN Connect MDS General Discussion Community where the conversation focuses exclusively on everyday questions that NACs have about their job and they get responses from MDS experts in the field.
Are you considering a job as a nurse assessment coordinator or just started your journey into the role of MDS? Learn more about the role of the NAC in post-acute care, and then join AAPACN to gain access to top-notch NAC-specific education and certification, tools and resources, news, webinars, articles, and an exclusive online community of 15,000 of your peers. We have the resources you need and will always be a part of your team!