While many may think of Medical Credentialing as a modern concept, it has been a part of physicians' careers since long before the middle ages. By the medieval period, the credentialing process was becoming more involved. In 13th century Paris, the formation of the College de Saint Come split the barber surgeons (surgeons of the long robe) from lay barbers (barbers of the short robe). To become a member of the College, and thus a surgeon of the long robe, one had to meet specific conditions for admission and pass an examination given by a panel of surgeons.
Modern day credentialing is far more complex and the process more error prone. We break down the basics of medical credentialing, the major players, benefits, best practices, most common issues and more. Read on to discover the convoluted, yet crucial, world of medical credentialing.
What is Medical Credentialing?
Credentialing is an essential process which verifies the educational qualifications and professional or clinical experience of healthcare providers and assures the patients that they are receiving service from providers who have undergone strict scrutiny and have required credentials to provide service. By verifying a healthcare provider's credentials, healthcare organizations and insurance companies can make informed decisions about which providers meet their standards and requirements to be included in their networks and which ones to trust with patient care.
It must be completed upon the hire or enrollment of a new provider. It must be repeated regularly afterwards in accordance with the standards set forth by regulatory and accreditation organizations such as the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) and The Joint Commission (TJC).
The medical credentialing process typically involves several steps, including:
Application: The provider submits an application to the credentialing organization, which includes information about their education, training, experience, and licensing.
Verification: The credentialing organization verifies the information provided in the application, including checking references and verifying licensure and education.
Background check: A background check is performed to ensure the provider does not have a history of disciplinary action or criminal activity.
Peer review: The provider's peers, or other healthcare professionals in the same field, may be consulted to assess the provider's clinical competence and professional behavior.
Decision: Based on the information gathered during the credentialing process, the credentialing organization makes a decision about the provider's eligibility to practice in a particular field or provide specific services.
What does Medical Credentialing involve?
Medical credentialing involves a review process of many different areas of the medical professional’s career, including but not limited to:
- Career history
- Specialty certifications
What Information is required for Medical Credentialing?
Before signing up for the credentialing review, it is important to know what information is required from any medical professional wishing to complete the process. The following information is needed to fill out the Provider Application credentialing paperwork completely.
- Personal Information
- Education Information
- Attestations (ensures forms are accurate and valid)
- Current hospital privileges
- Current work status
- State of malpractice insurance
- Work history
However, credentialing laws and regulations vary between states. Make sure to research any state-specific rules which may apply to the credentialing application process. To get more specific, the types of verification required for credentialing may include the following:
- Citizenship information
- Date of birth
- Email address
- Mailing address
- Name as written on license
- Phone number
- Previous names
- Recent photo
- Social security number
- Attendance month and year
- Institutions (name and address for each)
- Program director name
- BNDD copy
- CAQH password
- CME documents
- Current CV
- Current state licenses copy
- DEA copy
- Hospital affiliations (past, present, pending)
- Hospital privileges
- Malpractice claims history
- Peer references
- Practice address
- Practice specialty
- Practice tax ID number
- Practice phone number
- Primary practice contact
- Professional certificates (all current and past state licenses)
- Professional liability insurance
- Coverage amount
- Current insurance copy
- Expiration date
- List of providers covered by policy
- Provider NPI number
- Work history
Major Players in Provider Credentialing
There are several organizations which handle the necessary information for primary credentialing. As aforementioned, each state has its own licensing program rules, often broken down further into those for doctors and those for nurses. The following are a few of those crucial organizations which handle credentialing information:
- National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) – Contains information on license suspension, revocation or medical malpractice claims, allowing for verification of any negative events in the professional’s past
- The National Student Clearinghouse – Contains information on education history, allowing for verification
- Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) – Contains compiled information on a medical professional, including certifications, education, states with active licenses and any negative instants from the past.
- American Board of Medical Specialties (ABMS) – ABMS is a way to check the Board Certification of physicians undergoing review.
- The Office of Inspector General (OIG) and the System for Award Management (SAM) – These offices are capable of verifying if healthcare providers have any sanctions or exclusions which would inhibit their ability to practice.
After applying, another set of massive players in provider credentialing are the U.S. health insurance companies. Partnering with insurance companies is a necessary process for any medical office. Physicians and other professionals must provide a list of verifications to insurance carriers, including Medicare and Medicaid, in order to be eligible for reimbursable expenses.
Why Outsource Credentialing?
There are several reasons why providers may consider outsourcing their credentialing process:
Time savings: The credentialing process can be time-consuming and complex, involving numerous forms and applications, as well as the collection and verification of a large amount of information. By outsourcing this process, providers can save time and focus on delivering patient care.
Increased accuracy: Credentialing outsourcing companies have specialized knowledge and expertise in the field of credentialing, and can help ensure that the process is completed accurately and efficiently. This can reduce the risk of errors and help providers avoid costly mistakes.
Improved compliance: Outsourcing companies are often up-to-date with the latest regulatory requirements and can help ensure that providers are in compliance with all necessary regulations and standards.
Better efficiency: Outsourcing companies have streamlined processes in place to handle credentialing tasks and can often complete the process more quickly and efficiently than providers can on their own.
Cost savings: Outsourcing the credentialing process can save providers money by reducing the need for in-house staffing and resources. In addition, outsourcing companies often have established relationships with insurance companies and other stakeholders, which can speed up the process and reduce administrative costs.
Overall, outsourcing the credentialing process can provide numerous benefits to providers, including increased efficiency, cost savings, and improved accuracy and compliance. By partnering with a reputable outsourcing company, providers can focus on delivering quality patient care, while leaving the credentialing process in the hands of experienced professionals.
How does Credentialing Software streamline the Credentialing Process?
How do you manage and streamline the credentialing process for healthcare providers, reduce administrative burdens, and ensure that healthcare providers can begin practicing in a timely and efficient manner.making it more efficient and streamlined? This is made possible by the use of credentialing software:
Document management: It allows healthcare providers to store and manage all their documents in a centralized location. This includes licenses, certifications, diplomas, and other necessary documents.
Application management: Healthcare providers can complete their applications online, including submitting their personal and professional information, work history, and education.
Verification and validation: Verification and validation process, can be automated, allowing for quicker processing times and reducing the risk of human error.
Reporting and analytics: In-built reporting and analytics allow healthcare organizations to identify areas for improvement and optimize their processes.
Communication and collaboration: It enables communication and collaboration between healthcare providers and the credentialing organization, allowing for more efficient and effective communication throughout the process.
Overall, credentialing software can help streamline the credentialing process, reduce administrative burdens, and ensure that healthcare providers can begin practicing in a timely and efficient manner.
Best Practices for Hassle Free Provider Credentialing
As mentioned, provider credentialing can take quite a long time, even more so for medical professionals who are not adequately prepared. Streamline the process with these nine best practices.
1. Stay Current
Staying current with relevant organizations, like the Council for Affordable Quality Healthcare (CAQH) can make things a little simpler. According to an article published by Physicians Practice, “most payers in the nation have adopted [the CAQH] program.” The piece also notes that both new and veteran physicians who update their CAQH regularly find both credentialing and re-credentialing easier.
2. Organize your documentation
Keep all of your credentials, licenses, and certifications in a centralized, organized manner. This will make it easier to provide the necessary information and documentation to the credentialing organization.
3. Prepare Credentialing Packet
Credentialing can be difficult to complete correctly, not to mention stressful. Provide potential staff with the information and tools which would not only make their application process easier but also let them know you support their efforts (see below).
4. Start as Early as Possible
Have medical staff start the application process as soon as possible. Credentialing can take upward of four months so have medical staff start the process at least four months before their expected work start date, if possible. An article by Physicians Practice notes that “as payers have merged and supersized, a practice’s ability to…expedite an application has shrunk,” which means that you need to give yourself ample time to get through the application process.
5. Be thorough
Make sure to provide complete and accurate information in your application. Incomplete or inaccurate information can cause delays in the process or even result in denial of your credentials.
6. Contingent Start for new Providers
In order to avoid having a new provider not yet credentialed, have their start date tied to their credentialing paperwork submission date. For instance, have them start no sooner than four months after the submit. As a Physicians Practice article notes, “it’s better for the practice in the short run: it isn’t scheduling around payers with which the new physician is not credentialed. And it’s better for the new physician, whose schedule can be filled sooner and practice grow faster.”
7. Keep Tabs on the Process
Because the process is often so convoluted, it is ideal to keep all medical staff members’ application status info in one place, for easy reference and updating. This allows for any readjustments to be made in order to comply with the application processing.
8. Stay informed
Keep up to date on any changes to the credentialing process or requirements. Regularly check in with the credentialing organization to ensure the process is progressing smoothly.
9. Seek assistance
If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to seek assistance from the credentialing organization. They can provide guidance and support throughout the process to ensure a successful outcome.
Medical Credentialing Packet Checklist
Filling out all the application forms can be daunting. To make the application process more transparent for them, consider including the following in a Medical Credentialing Packet:
- A completed W9 form
- A list of insurance companies to apply with, including links to online applications
- Instructions on how to apply for National Provider Identifier (NPI) and CAQH numbers
- National Provider Identifer-2 (NPI-2)
- Practice info: address, phone, fax number
- Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN)
Helping medical staff or candidates with the process, by providing the right tools and information to make the journey smoother, will both support and help them to complete the process.
Most Common Issues in Provider Credentialing
Of course, readying and completing the application is just one of the steps in the entire process. It also needs to be checked extensively for any errors. The following are some common errors seen with Credentialing:
This includes any missing supporting documentation, required training or filling in of education or work gaps.
This includes any part of the application which was not completed, including blank areas, missing support documentation and incorrect info.
This occurs when some institutions require further postgraduate training or a completion of residency for credentialing criteria, but the applicant has not fulfilled the request.
A lack of organization can cost an office in appeals and lost reimbursements. Instead, consider outsourcing the credentialing process to a professional such as RevenueXL in order to keep the office on schedule and ensure no credentialing expiration occurs.
There may be more credentialing requirements depending on which state your practice is in. Make sure to check for reciprocity agreements with the state and payer organizations when taking on a physician from another state.
Many offices aim for the minimum credentialing process time. However, many payers actually take much longer, around five to six months. To be extra sure, plan for the longer processing time while hoping for the minimum.
Is there a real need to get re-credentialed?
To help maintain high standards of care and ensure that the provider continues to meet the qualifications and competencies required for their field of practice, every provider has to go through a process of updating or renewing their credentials, typically performed on a regular basis. This helps maintain high standards of care and protects the public by ensuring that healthcare providers are up-to-date with their qualifications, knowledge, and skills. It also helps to ensure that healthcare providers continue to meet the requirements of insurance companies, healthcare organizations, and regulatory bodies.
What: It requires a provider to repeat the credentialing process.
How: Providers will get a letter notifying them they are up for re-credentialing.
Why: It allows for a physician’s skills and history to be constantly reevaluated, hopefully minimizing any continuing to practice poorly.
When: If providers do not complete their re-credentialing within the deadline, their credentials are suspended until the process is completed and approved. During that period of suspension, they may not practice medicine.
Who: For example, boards often require re-credentialing every three years, according to state or federal requirements.
Medical Credentialing FAQs
Q: Credentialing seems like a hassle. Why is credentialing and privileging important?
A: It absolutely matters. This is how states and insurance agencies vet providers and decide if they are a high-quality medical provider or not. This, in turn, trickles to the patient, who wants their insurance to cover their costs, which is only possible through medical credentialing.
Q: How do I get credentialed with insurance companies?
A: To get insurance credentialed, go through the medical credentialing application process. Insurance companies will not work with someone who does not first have their medical credentials.
Q: What happens if a staff member’s application is not yet approved?
A: If someone works who does not have their credentials, then insurance carriers will not reimburse them. Insurance carriers do not reimburse medical offices that bills for services or professionals who have not been properly credentialed.
Q. How can healthcare providers stay up-to-date with their credentials?
Healthcare providers should regularly monitor the expiration dates of their licenses, certifications, and other credentials. They should keep track of any required renewals or recertifications and initiate the process well in advance. It's crucial to stay informed about the specific requirements of the organizations they are affiliated with and ensure timely submission of any necessary updates or documentation.
Q. Can healthcare providers appeal a credentialing decision?
Yes, healthcare providers typically have the right to appeal a credentialing decision if they believe it was made in error or if they have additional information to support their application. The appeals process varies between organizations, and providers should follow the guidelines provided by the credentialing committee or agency to initiate an appeal.
Q. Can providers use their credentialing for multiple organizations?
Credentialing is specific to each healthcare organization, and providers usually need to undergo the process individually for each institution. However, some organizations and networks accept credentialing verification from trusted sources or have reciprocal agreements with other organizations, which can expedite the process when joining multiple institutions.
Q: How long does the Medical Credentialing Process take?
It can take anywhere from 90 to 150 days, depending on the state requirements. Due to the extended processing time, make sure to leave plenty of time – at least four months -- to complete the credentialing application process.
Q: I don’t know how to do credentialing for physicians. Who knows how to do medical credentialing?
A: RevenueXL offers medical credentialing services. We know the ins and outs of physician credentialing companies and can assist any professional on their medical credential journey.
For further information on how RevenueXL can assist with medical credentialing needs, please do not hesitate to contact us at (888) 461-9998. We look forward to answering any and all of your medical credentialing questions.