Editor's Desk: Deferral of MDS 3.0 is hardly a reason to rest

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James M. Berklan, Editor
James M. Berklan, Editor
When the announcement came down, the news couldn't have been a shock to anyone who had been paying attention. But it was still big news.

MDS 3.0, see you next year.

Well, maybe.

When federal regulators wisely decided in March to admit that an October 2009 rollout wasn't going to be possible for MDS 3.0, they did all stakeholders, including themselves, a big favor.

Ever since the October 2009 rollout target for MDS 3.0 was announced, some observers said it could never happen that quickly. Even if the new standards had been released in a timely manner, software vendors and providers would have had to fall in line with them on time.

That was never going to happen. In fact, I'd be willing to bet it won't happen until 2011.

Regulators should wait to get results of the STRIVE study. (That stands for Staff Time and Resource Intensity Verification. It's a staff time measurement study for providing data and analysis to update the Medicare prospective payment system.)

But whether or not they do that, providers should recognize this postponement for what it is: a gift. Software vendors will have more time to create and fine-tune appropriate products for you. And you and your staff will have some time to improve your understanding of MDS 2.0 because, quite frankly, many of you could use some quality practice with it. Yes, even though it's been around for more than a decade. And note the emphasis on quality.

As I learned back in fifth grade from my teacher, Mr. Teeple, one of the wisest teachers/athletic coaches you could ever encounter, “Practice doesn't make perfect. Practice makes permanent.”

So if you or your staff have been cutting corners or somehow avoiding using MDS 2.0 the way it should be, get with it. Get it right and build for the future. Learning the process better now will have carryover value. Otherwise, you're only hurting yourselves, and your residents, and you will be for awhile to come.

If there is anything your facility needs, it is efficient and effective documentation and payment.

So go ahead and get some good mileage in with MDS 2.0. It might seem like a long way until 2010 (or 2011 if you believe my prediction), but one way or another, it's time to get moving.
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