Thanks to its Critical Access status, the Centers for Medicaid & Medicare Services (CMS) partially reimburses Mackinac Straits Hospital for nurse and physician salaries, depending on the type of work they perform during their shifts.
For example, when a nurse is working in the Emergency Department (ED), CMS reimburses her time at 40 percent. If there are no patients in the ED, she is allowed to assist in the hospital’s inpatient unit, where CMS reimburses at a higher rate of 80 percent.
Accurately capturing the time nurses spend in each department, however, was a challenge. “We tried getting the nurses to document the time they spend between the two areas,” says Jason Anderson, Chief Financial Officer, “but that created an extra manual step to log their location and didn’t always work well.”
Mackinac Straits was also looking for a way to accurately track physician time. The hospital is required to staff their ED with a physician 24 hours per day, even though there may be no patients. CMS reimburses the hospital for the physicians’ “downtime,” or the time they are spending outside of direct patient care.
Caregivers can easily forget to manually document their time, and conducting time studies for estimation purposes can be labor intensive. Mackinac Straits, like many rural hospitals, felt these issues may have caused them to underestimate eligible time for CMS reimbursement.
“With Versus, we know automatically where doctors and nurses are. It’s concrete. The reports give us something to back up our reimbursement requests.”
Jason Anderson, CFO
To tackle the documentation challenge, Mackinac Straits turned to Versus Visibility™ Critical Access, which uses real-time locating system (RTLS) technology to automatically conduct accurate time studies. The hospital installed wireless Versus V-Link™ sensors throughout the patient care areas, which communicate with Versus badges, worn by caregivers. Now nurses and physicians can simply go about their daily routines while Versus automatically documents their time for them.
When needed, the human resources department quickly generates a staff utilization report from the Versus reporting platform, Reports Plus™ Analytics, which details exactly how much time is eligible for CMS reimbursement. The hospital no longer has to rely on inaccurate documentation or worry about estimations that could result in lower reimbursements.
“With Versus, we know automatically where doctors and nurses are. It’s concrete,” Anderson remarks. “The reports give us something to back up our reimbursement requests.”
Cindy Donajkowski, Chief Nursing Officer, says caregivers also appreciate this hands-free approach. “It’s one less piece of documentation we have to worry about.”
Looking out over the historic Straits of Mackinac in northern Michigan, Mackinac Straits Hospital is a state-of-the-art critical access medical facility. Although remote and rural, the hospital provides a full range of health care services to residents and visitors.