How Can the Healthcare Industry Streamline Vendor Credentialing?

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Vendor credentialing requirements at healthcare facilities shouldn’t be so difficult.

That’s what Jim Ziegra, HCIR Credentialing Manager at Abiomed, wants healthcare facilities to know about the often cumbersome validation processes that take up valuable time for both hospital staff and medical supplier representatives.

Suppliers understand and support the need for credentialing, recognizing that all facilities need to track every visitor on-site and verify the qualifications of representatives that support patient care.

But unlike a driver’s license that is reciprocal across state lines, there is no “driver’s license” for supplier credentialing. Supplier representatives support anywhere from 3-50 or more HCI/HCOs. As a result, they are confronted by literally hundreds of nuances when complying with various requirements. You can imagine the confusion.

“When they have to update their credentials, they need to do it for each account. There are common documents, but you must complete them multiple times. There is no carryover or interoperability between facilities,” said Ziegra.

Credentialing Glitches Can Impact Patient Care

Most everyone in the medical industry agrees that having healthcare supplier reps in facilities supports better patient care—which is the ultimate goal, according to Ziegra.

“The reps bring huge value because they are the experts on the device, helping to train the staff and provide information to anyone treating the patient,” he said. “Whether it’s in the OR or the cath lab, reps can answer on the spot if an issue or question comes up.”

Product support can become less than optimal when reps have trouble accessing cases. Ziegra says this happens daily because of constantly changing requirements or glitches at check-in kiosks.

“If it’s a kiosk problem, you’re not getting in, even if you’re 100% compliant. You need to find someone in Materials Management or HR who may not be able to fix what’s needed in time before a case starts.”

Building Efficiencies With the American National Standards for Healthcare Suppliers

Ziegra says a big step in improving the situation would be the entire healthcare industry adopting the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Standard for Supplier Credentialing in Healthcare.

Providers who embrace ANSI Standards eliminate waste and excessive labor time caused by duplication of effort and redundancy of processes while increasing efficiency with clear compliance expectations. Suppliers who comply with the ANSI Standards are helping to ensure that their reps are appropriately screened and trained and that they meet the highest standards.

The Consortium for Universal Healthcare Credentialing, now C4UHC, a 501(c) (6) non-profit organization, came together with over 60 stakeholders from suppliers, providers, vendor credentialing organizations, and others to establish consistent credentialing processes for healthcare industry representatives (HCIR) and translate those processes into data standards. Achieving success through the participation of this wide variety of healthcare industry stakeholders, the first American National Standards (ANS) for Supplier Credentialing were published in 2019 and updated in 2020 to include provisions for personal protective equipment (PPE) and medical testing in a pandemic environment.

Over 25% of all U.S. hospitals are aligned to the ANSI Standard for Supplier Credentialing in Healthcare. Interested in evaluating the credentialing requirements you have in place? Go to C4UHC’s ANSI Standard page.