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7 Questions to Ask Your Credentialing Technology Vendor

1. How long does this software typically take to implement? Can I speak with a client about their experience?

It’s a familiar scenario, you signed a contract worth thousands of dollars to implement new technology. That was two years ago and you’re still mailing out the old 40-page medical staff application and faxing peer reference questionnaires.

Implementing new technology shouldn’t take years and, if it does, by the time it’s up and running it’s probably already out of date. One of the benefits of cloud-based technology is that it’s already “installed” on the web and all you need to do is get a login account that you will implement.

Your potential vendor should be able to provide a sample implementation timeline or project plan based on organizations that are similar to yours. Even better, ask to speak with another client or two about their experience implementing the tool. A first-hand account from an organization that went through the implementation process will provide a more authentic picture of what you can expect.

Another great question – Who handles the heavy-lifting involved with implementation, the vendor or client? The timeline should outline who is responsible for each phase of the implementation.

2. This tool will make the credentialing process electronic, but will it automate any of my daily tasks?

You’re excited to finally start managing the credentialing process from your computer except you find yourself still spending much of your time emailing multiple requests and tracking down responses by phone.

The movement toward paperless processes is a major driver of technology adoption for many healthcare organizations and their credentialing departments. Unfortunately, many tools simply transfer the paper-based process to a desktop, but do little to automate the tedious tasks associated with credentialing a provider.

Ask if the tool will simplify the tasks that take up much of your team’s valuable time like identifying red flags, following up on incomplete responses, or chasing unresponsive peer references. If your team will still need to do much of this manually, consider a more evolved solution that automates key actions such as sending reminders and alerting you of red flags. This will free up time for your team to focus on its more strategic work like preparing for final committee review and determining whether or not a provider is fit to join your medical staff.

3. Can you walk me through how the applicant’s experience will be impacted by this tool?

Once you’re sold on the positive impacts your team will experience, whether by eliminating paper processes or saving you time, that’s great, but don’t forget about other important stakeholders – especially the applicant.

With a growing shortage of physicians, competition for top providers is fiercer than ever. The experience you provide during each stage of the onboarding process can make or break a provider’s decision to join your medical staff.

Ask how applicants will be impacted by the implementation of the tool. Will the tool eliminate any burden put on the applicant, simplify or speed their role in the credentialing process? If not, consider expanding your search to include vendors that focus on improving the experience for all stakeholders interacting with their technology – your team, your applicants, and referencing providers.

4. What exactly is included in this license?

You’ve sat through multiple demonstrations of the tool you’re considering purchasing and are impressed with all of the features it has to offer. You kick off the implementation process only to realize some of those exciting features weren’t included.

Didn’t know you were ordering off the a la carte menu?

Not all features come standard. Ask for a complete breakdown of what is included in your contract. Avoid surprise invoices later by making sure you understand exactly which features or services are add-ons and have additional costs associated.

5. How are software updates handled? Are clients that use older versions automatically upgraded to the latest version?

Your organization purchased a credentialing database a few years back but they’ve released three new versions since and are dropping support for the outdated version you’re using. Now your organization is forced to undergo a labor-intensive process to move your records to the latest version which will interrupt your team’s progress significantly.

One of the drawbacks of installed software is that vendors often support clients on multiple versions of the tool, simultaneously. As the vendor improves and updates their software, new versions are released and outdated versions start to have issues, creating headaches for users.

Ask if the tool you’re evaluating is updated automatically or if additional installations are needed to remain current. If the latter is true, find out if there is a cost associated with upgrading to newer versions and if those updates require any downtime or heavy lifting on your end.

Keep in mind that vendors with cloud-based solutions update their technology automatically with no installation and little, if any, downtime. This means all users run the most current version of the solution at all times.

6. How reliable is the product roadmap? When will new features be released?

We’ve all heard it before. Your team needs specific functionality and suddenly the vendor has a new feature in the works that will fulfill all your needs. Cue the Jeopardy theme song.

Vaporware refers to software or hardware that has been advertised but is not yet available to buy, either because it is only a concept or because it is still being written or designed. If you are considering a solution that is not yet available, ask to experience the demo or prototype environment. If one is not available, this may give a sense of how far off that feature really is.

Before signing a contract, get the scheduled release date or production timeline in writing – especially if the feature is a deal breaker. If the expected release date comes and goes without any notice of a delay in delivery, follow up with the vendor.

7. How do you conduct training? Do you offer ongoing support?

Your new vendor schedules time for a group training with your team… and five others. There were so many people included on the training call that you couldn’t get your questions answered and now you’re left to fend for yourself because there’s limited client support available.

Ask about what kind of short-term and long-term client support the vendor offers.

Short-term client support – how are training sessions conducted and are one-to-one client trainings are available? Training is significantly more valuable in a one-to-one setting when the vendor can personalize the session to fit the client’s specific needs and questions.

Long-term client support – Ask how technical support and product issues are dealt with throughout the life of a contract. If the vendor offers limited or no ongoing technical support, or there may be fees? Consider moving forward with a provider that has more resources available to your team.

At SkillSurvey, we believe talent determines the success or failure of every business. In healthcare—the business of patient care—this is especially the case. Recruiting, credentialing and privileging the best medical providers helps your organization ensure patient safety and satisfaction. That’s why we make it quick and easy to get clinicians credentialed and on staff so they can start providing top-notch patient care sooner.

To see first-hand how SkillSurvey Credential OnDemand® helps reduce feedback delays and speed onboarding with smart, simple credentialing, request a demo today.

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