Guest blog post by Linda Van Winkle, CPMSM, CPCS, Credentialing Solutions Consultant at SkillSurvey

I read with great interest “Life in Emergistan: The Pain of Credentialing is a 10/10” by Edwin Leap, MD.

As a Medical Services Professional for 35 years, I have always placed value on the perspective of the physician. Seeing first-hand the work they do and with the ever-increasing burdens placed on them, I respect their opinions.

Dr. Leap had many valid points. The credentialing process can be very painful for the physician applicant … as he says, a 10 on the pain scale. I’ve heard this from many busy physicians over the years.

Just as physicians are patient advocates, so are Medical Services Professionals. Physician applicants would do well to see the credentialing process from the MSP perspective.

The credentialing process used to consist of a 2-page medical staff application and a couple of letters of reference. In the past several decades, additional documentation and process steps have been added, primarily due to (a) government regulations, (b) accreditation standards, and (c) professional liability/malpractice cases.

Experienced MSPs generally conduct the credentialing process with some healthy skepticism. Let’s just say that we have an attitude of “trust but verify” when it comes to taking an applicant’s word. This is due to some harrowing experiences during our careers. We “blue haired ladies” have encountered applicants who are hiding “nefarious activity” and have managed to elude the stringent credentialing processes of state licensing boards.

If not for the MSP, these unsafe practitioners could easily move from one healthcare organization to another, slipping into the patient care arena undetected until a disastrous event occurs.

When a new applicant is to be brought on board in a healthcare organization, it is generally to the benefit of the applicant, his/her prospective partners, hospital administration, recruiters, marketing, etc., to bring in those applicants as quickly as possible. Many times it is only the medical staff professional, looking closely and critically at an application packet and doing research using various avenues, who finds that an applicant could be harmful to an institution and takes the appropriate steps to ensure all relevant information is seen by the review committee.

Yes, the credentialing process can be very duplicative, with applicants being asked for the same information for individual departments within the same organization, especially with the new paradigm of hospital systems that contain multiple hospitals, ambulatory care centers, large physician groups, managed care, etc. Most MSPs would agree with Dr. Leap that something needs to be done.

The good news is that we are seeing the pendulum swing back toward a more simplified, smart credentialing process. In my job as a Credentialing Solutions Consultant, I know and work with MSPs and physician leaders who are working together, using technology and process improvement methods (e.g., kaizen or LEAN), to map the myriad steps in the physician onboarding process (from recruitment to employment to credentialing & privileging to physician office practice management to payer enrollment), eliminating non-value steps, breaking down departmental silos within the organization, and eliminating duplicative forms, verification, and process steps.

This is good news for the physician applicant in these progressive healthcare organizations, who can now deal with one person, fill out just one application, and experience just one credentialing process in order to begin to practice.

This is happening! In this age of the Internet we do have ways to process a credentialing application more quickly and efficiently and improving the quality of information which relates directly to patient care. It may not have been Dr. Leap’s experience YET, but thanks to physicians and others in leadership positions on medical staffs across the nation, collaborating with experienced MSPs, a growing number of health care organizations are accomplishing what Dr. Leap yearns for.

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