Among the many challenges of routinely bringing locum tenens staff into a healthcare facility is credentialing. Before locums can be brought on board, they have to have the proper credentials in place. Any lack of credentials becomes the responsibility of the clinician or staffing agency. One way or the other, someone has to rectify the situation.
It is common knowledge within the healthcare sector that locum tenens credentialing could be easier. To figure out just what is wrong with the system, the Association of Staff Physician Recruiters studied the problem with a combination of focus groups and surveys conducted around the country. They discovered for major problems:
- Incomplete and/or inaccurate information
- Poor communication between stakeholders
- Credentialing processes that take too long
- Poor matches between providers and employers.
The obvious question is, what can be done to address these challenges? Below is a list of strategies that might help alleviate some of the problems faced by employers.
Better Vendor Management Systems
Healthcare systems could greatly improve the administrative aspects of locum tenens staffing just by deploying a better vendor management system. Using state-of-the-art, cloud-based software tools, they can get a better handle on all of the data they rely on for managing staff. A solution that includes an operational credentialing portal takes things to the next level.
Such a portal would make it possible for employers to quickly and easily vet incoming locums to ensure all credentials are in order. Assuming the system was kept up to date, offered in real time, and networked among multiple staffing agencies, credentials would automatically populate across the system whenever new data is entered.
Established Application Processes
Some of the problems related to poor communication and missing or inaccurate information could be solved just by establishing a fixed application process that requires every locum do the same thing. Along with such a process should be clear and succinct instructions.
Those instructions, including credentialing instructions, should be clearly communicated in writing. Applicants should be told they are expected to read and understand the instructions in full so as to comply with the established application process.
Streamlined Application Processes
Hand-in-hand with establishing a clear application process is streamlining the process to make it as easy as possible. The reality is that competition for highly skilled locum tenens clinicians is fierce. An organization with a burdensome and inefficient application process cannot effectively compete for top talent. They are left with whatever is left, increasing the chances that they will run into credentialing problems.
You can make the case that some of the problems related to locum tenens credentialing are related to unclear expectations. Sometimes staffing agencies and providers just don’t know what employers expect of them. They do not know what to do, so they do what they think is best – even if it is contrary to what the employer actually wants.
This is one particular area in which firm expectations are a necessity. Employers need to make it clear to both providers and staffing agencies what they expect of them. And when those expectations are not met, employers need to be firm in their responses. When expectations are firm and clearly communicated, it only requires one or two minor issues to get staffing agencies and recruiters fully on board.
Credentialing is one of the most difficult challenges of regularly using locum tenens providers. But it is a challenge that can be overcome. With clear application processes, firm expectations, and a state-of-the-art vendor management system with a built-in credentialing module, what gives so many facilities headaches can be virtually eliminated.