Attention medical imaging engineers: vendor credentialing programs are here, and they’re not going anywhere!
In a recent LinkedIn discussion I asked engineers what some of their biggest headaches are when trying to service equipment. I wasn’t expecting to hear that vendor credentialing was the cause of some of their migraines. The overwhelming response to the process was that it can be very costly and very time-consuming. Blood tests, background checks, training sessions, and photo IDs are all items that appear frequently in the lists of requirements that credentialing groups ask vendors to provide, and none of them are free.
Of course, we at Block Imaging have experienced our own issues with vendor credentialing, but not to the extent some others have. I decided to talk with one of the top vendor credentialing companies to get a better understanding of why so many hospitals are turning to them and what vendors can do to make the process simpler. The following is what I learned from that conversation.
How many credentialing companies are out there?
My first step was to do an internet search for the most prevalent credentialing company. When I got the search results back, I really couldn’t believe how many of these companies there are: Compliance Depot, ProTech Compliance, Vendormate, PerTrax, Reptrax (who also bought –Vendor Clear & Status Blue), VCS, PreCheck, Vendor Credentials, and VeriRep, to name just a few. This abundance is a fairly recent development, with most of these companies having been started around 2005-06. There are a few that were started as far back as the 80’s and 90’s, but, by and large, the industry is very young.
Having found so many companies with this search, I contacted a prominent vendor credentialing firm from the first page of results (one that I had heard of and encountered personally during the course of an equipment installation) and spoke with a representative.
Why the push for Vendor Credentialing?
A factor my source emphasized to me is that hospitals are being audited more strictly when it comes to patient safety. The Joint Commission audits hospitals according to its standards pertaining to patient safety. Some of these standards are as follows:
- Standard EC.02.01.01, which states that in order to protect patient safety, accredited health organizations need to be aware of who is entering their organization and what these individuals are doing in their organization.
- Standard RI.01.01.01, which states that accredited healthcare organizations need to take steps to ensure patient rights are respected.
- Standard IC.02.01.01, which states that accredited healthcare organizations need to take steps to ensure that infection control precautions are followed.
Looking at these standards it’s easy to see why hospitals might struggle with making sure all the vendors that come in and out of their facilities meet them. Vendor credentialing companies provide this service to hospitals and relieve this burden.
So, what can I do to make this less painful?
To put our main point succinctly; Prepare to hand out a lot more information a lot more often. Here’s how:
When you have to go into a hospital for a deinstall, install, or service call ask the hospital if they have a “one-day” pass or even a “three-day pass”. You might be able to enter the hospital without going through the rigorous and costly requirements if you only need to enter the building a few times.
Check this website, http://www.hospitalvendorcredentialing.com/, before you depart for a new site to see if the hospital uses a credentialing company and who they are. Many times, simply knowing what is expected in advance will keep both frustration and lost time to a minimum.
If you are entering a hospital on a regular basis, look into a yearly rate through their credentialing company. It may save you money in the long run as you continue to serve that facility.
In any case, the trend in vendor credentialing at hospitals is likely to continue upward and service organizations that want to retain and grow their hospital clientele will need to adapt. Keeping careful files on things like employee immunization, criminal background checks, and HIPAA training and updating them yearly will become important in streamlining the registration process for entry into future sites. Taking the time to gather information like this now will help eliminate the wasted time and costly mistakes that so often come with last-minute preparations.