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Digital credentialing brings timelines and onboarding to physician hiring - Summer/Fall 2016
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By Darrin Fagan, Vice President of Credentialing, SkillSurvey 

There is nothing more frustrating for a physician recruiter than finding and landing a great practitioner, only to have to wait forever for that candidate to onboard due to credentialing delays. What’s worse? Losing a great applicant when the process takes too long! 

Most of the time, it’s completely out of your organization’s control. Your team sends and resends verification requests to third parties, and follows up with phone calls, but the process is heavily reliant on peer references—busy practitioners who typically have a very full day-to-day schedule seeing patients. The bulk of verification forms that are required in today’s health care environment are naturally not their highest priority.

Twenty-five percent of health care organizations wait two to three months to complete a credentialing cycle for a new doctor, according to  a new survey of nearly 500 medical staff services professionals conducted by SkillSurvey. It’s no surprise that two big credentialing problem areas are collecting peer references and confirming hospital affiliations. The SkillSurvey research found 62% of respondents wait one to three weeks for a physician reference. Half of all respondents report it takes one to two weeks to verify a hospital affiliation, and another 20 percent say it takes two to four weeks.

A digital solution
A new generation of digital cloud-based credentialing technology, which users can access 24/7 from laptop, tablet or smartphone, is putting an end to this waiting game and allowing health care organizations to bring more reliable timelines to the process.

Since it adopted such technology Belmont, Mass.-based McLean Hospital, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, now completes credentialing verifications for the majority of its new clinicians in less than one week, chiefly because it’s easy for peers to access and submit online referencing forms from a mobile device or tablet and hospitals have flexible digital response options as well. Previously, McLean relied on paper forms to do the job. “We used to count on credentialing taking at least two months, and our staff felt like they spent all of their time sending applications and verification forms,” said Terry Bragg, McLean’s Director of Professional Staff Affairs. “The technology is amazing. It frees our staff from paperwork, and the feedback from the clinicians is even better. They’re telling us how easy it is because they don’t have to be in the office, and they can access it from their phones.”

Paper’s the problem
Credentialing involves a lot of paper—for example, applications, peer references, affiliation verifications, and committee review. Traditional credentialing software solutions brought some efficiencies to medical staff services teams, but often require doctors to re-input information multiple times, or to handwrite, scan and fax back responses. Often, users must be in their offices at a computer to access it. 

The new digital systems hosted in the internet cloud allow the solutions to be accessed at any time from any type of device. Plus, credentialing teams access information and monitor applications and verifications as soon as data are entered by the applicant or the third parties. They also automatically highlight any red flags that don’t meet your standards and can send automated alerts to peers or applicants when information is missing. 

McLean is a leader in psychiatric care, research and education, and is the largest psychiatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School. Using SkillSurvey’s Credential OnDemand™ has been a life-saver, as the organization adds more physicians and independently licensed clinicians to expand care to patients. Also, the technology has helped McLean deal with growing credentialing volume, as it meets state regulations requiring expansive affiliation verifications for both new clinicians and those being re-appointed. 

In February, McLean added new beds and clinicians, and the team was able to manage the process better plus guarantee shorter credentialing timelines. “We’re able to tell our CMO with more certainty that a candidate will be ready for the next credentials committee meeting. This is helping us get a new doctor credentialed more quickly and avoid staff vacancies,” added Bragg. 

“And, the team loves the new system as well. We’re looking at more ways we can use it to digitize the entire credentialing process.” 


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