Healthcare executives in charge of staffing know all too well the challenges that have traditionally characterized the medical credentialing process. Historically, the process is time-consuming and costly. It can take weeks or months to credential a provider, meanwhile, facilities can lose millions of dollars in revenue during that time.
For facility staff, credentialing can take upwards of 20 hours per provider as they work to check backgrounds, verify credentials, privileges, medical boards, education, and more. In addition, a slow credentialing process costs provider, facilities, and the industry at large. Providers lose income, facilities lose revenues, and the credentialing process contributes to half of the estimated $361 billion a year wasted on healthcare administration, according to an Institute of Medicine study.
A Long-Term Change for Credentialing?
Many industry experts have pointed to the fact that a more streamlined and efficient credentialing process could save time and money that could be redirected to better patient care, equipment, and hiring more providers. Not to mention, lower wait times, improved patient satisfaction, and ultimately better patient outcomes.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted a range of issues in the healthcare industry, not the least of which is the need for a faster credentialing process. During times of crisis, staff is the hospital resource most at risk for inadequate supply. The COVID-19 pandemic required many facilities to review their credentialing policies to see if there was an expedited path for credentialing of medical staff, or to consider creating one.
Such policies include exceptions to some of the usual credentialing guidelines, such as replacing multiple committees with one to consider applications for privileges, limiting privileges given to a provider who went through expedited credentialing, or limiting the time in which those limited privileges may be exercised.
During a surge event, many facilities will turn to trusted staffing partners to bring on additional travel, per diem, or locums tenens talent to manage increased patient loads. In fact, in a recent survey of healthcare facilities by Cross Country Healthcare, 70% of respondents agree they would have engaged their staffing partners and suppliers earlier to help meet staffing demands brought on by COVID-19.
According to Hank Drummond, Chief Clinical Officer at Cross Country Healthcare, “During challenging times, we believe as partners to healthcare facilities across the country, it is our obligation to improve and streamline the credentialing process to move needed staff quickly while still ensuring safety and quality at the bedside and meeting the State and Federal requirements during a crisis. This may be the path forward for a long-term streamlined credentialing process in the ‘new normal.’”