Author: Vicki Searcy; Vice President, Client Success Services and Consulting; Verity, A HealthStream Company
In this issue, I’d like to discuss the topic of what we expect medical staff leaders to know and do vs. those individuals who support the medical staff credentialing and privileging process – specifically the MSPs (Medical Services Professionals).
When I’m working with an organization on credentialing and privileging, I often find that MSPs struggle to effectively manage the credentialing/privileging process. Sometimes, it is lack of knowledge and in other cases it is a lack of time. Many times, individuals who work in credentialing/privileging are overwhelmed by all the paper and have a difficult time assembling a coherent file for review by medical staff leaders (when you have a lot of paper, it is important to clearly identify the important paperwork, since medical staff leaders usually don’t have the time to carefully examine each and every piece of paper collected for initial appointment or reappointment).
If individuals in a Medical Staff Office are hampered by lack of knowledge or are overworked and overwhelmed, is there a chance that files that are prepared for review by Department Chairs and the Credentials Committee won’t be as thoroughly scrutinized as they should be?
Most medical staff leaders heavily rely on MSPs to point out the issues in a credentials file – red flags such as gaps, lukewarm (or worse) references, applicant asking for privileges that he/she does not meet criteria for, etc. I’ve been in this business for over 30 years, and I still see (and hear) Department Chairs ask “where do I sign” and I still see Credentials Committee meetings held at noon where the members are expected to arrive, pick up and eat their lunch – and, oh-by-the-way, thoroughly review some files during the meeting. I personally have seen some major items missed as a result of this type of process.
I’ve also been to the noon Credentials Committee meeting to see a checklist on each file, where the reviewer is expected to go through the file to make sure that the applicant is licensed, has a DEA, that the NPDB was queried, etc. In other words, the Credentials Committee member is asked to perform a file audit – in my opinion, definitely the work of the MSP.
In addition to review of individual credentials files, what should a Department Chair, Credentials Committee members and MEC members be able to rely on the MSP to know?
Obviously, the MSP is also responsible for oversight of credentialing processes (initial appointment, reappointment) and creation and maintenance of credentials files (whether in paper or electronic format) – among other tasks associated with the credentialing process.
Let’s be fair - what should the MSP expect of medical staff leaders, such as Department Chairs, Credentials Committee and Medical Executive Committee Chairs?
Finally, Chairs should keep up with important information about the issues that impact the work of his/her committee by making a commitment to read available journals, newsletters and other materials – that will help to keep him/her updated on new developments, solutions and knowledge about what other medical staff organizations do to meet similar challenges.
I believe that attending meetings is a great way for medical staff leaders to obtain new information, as well as an invaluable opportunity to network with other medical staff leaders. If you can’t attend a meeting in person, you should consider “attending” a webinar. You will still have some opportunity to network with your colleagues if the webinar allows for some interaction between the attendees and the speaker(s).
Finally - if your medical staff organization doesn’t have the support you need to do your job as a medical staff leader – speak to your CEO. There are hundreds of qualified MSPs across the country – perhaps your organization needs to make the commitment to finding one (or more) for your organization. If you need a job description for this type of position, contact me – I’ll send you a sample.