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Baystate Health

Baystate Health’s New Digital Peer Referencing Integration is a Dream Come True
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Baystate Health is a not-for profit, integrated health care system providing high-quality, compassionate healthcare to over 800,000 people across western New England.
Providers:  1,600 (doctors) 601 (associate professionals)
Credentialing Staff: 7
Beds: 980 
Hospitals: 5

Peer referencing that’s infinitely better

As a result of the SkillSurvey digital peer referencing solution that integrates with the Cactus Provider Management Platform from symplr, peer referencing is infinitely better for Baystate Health’s providers as well as its department and credentialing staff.
“The peer referencing tool has improved both compliance ratings and customer satisfaction levels by 80% and enhanced the credentialing team’s overall efficiency. Before the Cactus-SkillSurvey solution, peer referencing was the most manually demanding and slowest aspect of the credentialing process.”
Barbara E. Prats

Manager, BH CVO, BayState Health, SkillSurvey user and beta tester

Credentialers now get peer references back in just 20 minutes not five weeks, a whopping 1,920% improvement, thanks to the Cactus-SkillSurvey solution. As importantly, they spend just a couple of minutes rather than up to two hours on peer referencing for each provider – devoting 10% not 60% of their time to peer referencing. The bulk of their time had been spent tracking status, sending reminders and following up on incomplete references.

The Cactus-SkillSurvey solution that made these efficiencies possible also cost Baystate 70% less than hiring an additional full-time staff member. This strategy had been considered to eliminate the extra work and hours the salaried credentialing team logged to keep Baystate doctors’ files current.


SkillSurvey digital peer referencing integrated with the Cactus Provider Management Platform from symplr.

Key Challenges

1. Up to 5-week turnaround on peer reference requests
2. Just 70% of peer references come back correct and complete
3. Peer referencing bottlenecks delayed new hires’ start dates
4. Resulting doctor shortages challenged departments’ resource management and scheduling
5. Peer reference delays negatively affected compliance ratings and customer satisfaction
6. Salaried credentialers work overtime to keep files current
7. Credentialers spent 60% of their time on peer referencing


1. 20-minute turnaround on peer reference requests – 1,920% faster
2. 98% of peer references are properly completed and returned – 28% improvement
3. New hires start on time
4. Doctor availability facilitates departmental resource management and scheduling
5. Faster peer referencing improves both compliance ratings and customer satisfaction by 80%
6. Credentialers keep files current without overtime
7. Credentialers spend 10% of their time on peer referencing
Integrating digital peer references via an instantly accessible, digital questionnaire expedites the process for the credentialing team and third-party responders. All provider data flows between the systems to make it quick and easy to access more accurate data when doing verifications.  Why do peers now fill out and return the peer references forms in 20 minutes rather than up to five weeks? As Prats explains it, they complete the peer reference forms immediately because the Cactus-SkillSurvey solution makes it so easy to do from their smart phones, tablets, laptops and other devices. They simply key their responses into the required fields sequentially to complete and digitally submit the reference forms. They’re not misplacing the forms, printing and scanning them or looking for pens, fax machines, envelopes or stamps to return them to Baystate.
“Cactus and SkillSurvey make it incredibly quick and convenient to complete them anytime and anywhere.”
Barbara E. Prats

Manager, BH CVO, BayState Health

The integration, which can be live in just a few weeks, lets Baystate enter applicants and references into the Cactus Provider Management Platform from symplr, then use SkillSurvey’s efficient digital peer referencing. The highly automated, digitized process also sends reminders to peers who have not responded and will flag references if necessary. The SkillSurvey application even has a dashboard that shows the status of requests. Once forms are completed and electronically signed by physicians and other peer responders, data is automatically loaded into the Cactus Provider Management system to seamlessly fulfill credentialing requirements. Because 98% of peer reference requests are correctly completed and returned the same day, up from 70% before the Cactus-SkillSurvey solution, there are fewer reminders and zero reference do-over requests. At any given time, the credentialing team is typically handling up to 250+ new hires and recredentialing more than 150 doctors.
New hires are ongoing (three peer references each) and recredentialing (two peer references each) takes place every two years. The Cactus-SkillSurvey integration sends out the three peer reference request letters required per new hire doctor in less than a minute versus the 20 to 25 minutes when handled manually by staff.  Before the Cactus-SkillSurvey solution, Baystate used Cactus to create the letters that were then sent via email, fax and regular mail. Tracking how each letter had been sent and its status was confusing and incredibly inefficient, particularly since most peers required multiple, additional reminders. Because so many of the submitted references were illegible and/or incomplete, further follow-up was then required.

“It was a real waste of time and an absolute nightmare because we had to physically touch every doctor’s file and follow up so many times – we now invest five to 10 minutes per file instead of up to 120 minutes,” says Prats. “I’m so glad symplr and SkillSurvey listened when I suggested that together they could provide the solution that would benefit Baystate and so many other credentialing departments.”

At Baystate, the Cactus Provider Management Platform from symplr + SkillSurvey:
  1. Digitized Baystate Health’s three standard peer reference evaluation forms
  2. Initiates peer reference outreach for providers
  3. Sends requested privileges, authorization for information and evaluation forms to references
  4. Receives peer reference outreach status updates
  5. Automatically cascades completed peer reference data into the Cactus platform

“The SkillSurvey digital peer referencing solution that’s integrated with the Cactus Provider Management Platform from symplr really is priceless. It is awesome and the credentialing team absolutely loves what it does for us every single day.”

Barbara E. Prats

Manager, BH CVO, BayState Health

Want to learn more?

Request a personalized demo and see how you can speed peer referencing even more with this integration.