Healthcare Credentialing | symplr Blog

Centralizing Credentialing in a Multi-Hospital System - Part 2

Written by Janice Benggio, CPMSM, CPCS, CPHRM | May 27, 2016 2:30:00 PM

In our previous blog, we discussed how essential it is to have stakeholder input when creating an efficient credentialing centralization process. Now, we’ll explore how to make a smooth transition to increase efficiency and decrease duplication of efforts. For starters, think about having a unified team whose members represent the interest of their group. Also, consider making sure the team is highly varied – depending on the makeup of your multi-hospital system.

Simply put, you will want an accurate team of representatives because the next step is the normalization of patient data.

How to Kick Off the Normalization of Data

No doubt, the normalization of patient data is imperative to centralizing your credentialing process. While credentialing is an input process that feeds into delivering quality healthcare, it relies on the output of patient data that must be accurately documented, stored, and translated.

With the enforcement of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act, normalization has become a top priority when it comes to maintaining a high-level of consistency throughout the entire organization. In essence, the whole purpose of normalization is to reduce the data management redundancy and ensure its accuracy for cross-discipline use.

Reinforce Organizational Involvement

Where to start? First, establish a framework that will empower your team to organize their ideas and easily make decisions. Within a multi-hospital system, it is possible to have variations within your credentialing bylaws. If you unify the credentialing bylaws into a one policy rule, you can then delegate credential verification to one facility or to a centralized credentialing unit. The win-win: the credentialing process is greatly accelerated for everyone’s benefit.

Think of it this way: having too many facilities verifying credentials leads to redundancy and staff frustration. By processing the verification processes once, you can prevent errors and make it easier to apply change to scale, which is the normalization of patient data.

Reducing the Cost of Errors

Sure, we can all see the short-team benefits of data normalization, but how does it ensure long-term quality of healthcare? A recent Journal of Patient Safety study by John James, PhD, found that preventable medical errors persist as the third-highest reason for death in the United States[1].

When normalizing data, you can address this major healthcare risk by standardizing medical terminology into a universally accepted code. In fact, the HITECH Act encourages hospitals to adapt their code standards to the new International Classification of Diseases’ ICD-10-CM codes. The ICD-10-CM is a revision of the previous ICD-9-CM codes with more than 68,000 diagnostic codes[2].

For more accurate treatment, the new ICD-10-CM offers twice as many categories. In using classifications like ICD-10-CM, you make it easier for a multi-hospital system to align disease and procedural information to credentials and privileges.  

Normalization in Action

For data normalization to be successful, it will require more than IT support. Most hospitals have adopted electronic systems along with paper methods to create, categorize, and fill their forms. This is only complicated when you consider the various administrative practices and nuances of multi-hospital systems. At a minimum, organizations will need to re-format their paper administrative forms and surveys into a singular format across all hospitals in the system. Let’s face it, this can be a massive undertaking when attempting to normalize data from a variety of sources and formats.

If your multi-hospital systems have unified policies, be sure to consider the form and paper requirements of each individual hospital. This may seem cumbersome and require regular audits the first few times to ensure that all hospitals within the system are represented. With forms and other documentation acting as the “input” for the database, you will achieve a consistent format with the code standards.

Other benefits? Systems with a standardized data format will add much-needed efficiency to the verification step of their credentialing systems. Facilities will only need to perform the verification once, using a singular format to allow practitioners to quickly start their responsibilities. Best of all, this will result in greater control over healthcare errors, as documentation and credentialing are done in one location under a standardized format.

Want to learn more centralizing the credentialing process of a multi-hospital system? Don’t miss our  symplr Education Series webcast, Centralizing Credentialing in a Multi-Hospital System. For effective and user-friendly solutions to your credentialing process, Schedule a Demo with symplr today!

[1] John J., PhD. “A New, Evidence-based Estimate of Patient Harms Associated with Hospital Care. Journal of Patient Safety.

[2] “International Classification of Diseases (ICD)”. World Health Organization.