Healthcare Credentialing and New Technology: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
It’s 2015, are you credentialing for New Technology yet? No? Then you might be screwed!
According to a recent article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, credentialing issues may leave doctors, facilities, and patients vulnerable to harm. Performed by members of the University of Michigan Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, the study found a lack of ongoing credentialing and certification of surgeons – especially when new technologies and procedures were introduced.
The absence of consistent and cohesive privileging could pose a major issue for your hospital or healthcare facility, according to faculty members Justin Dimick, M.D., MPH, and Darrell Campbell, Jr., M.D. It’s an unnecessary risk that needs to be addressed by the industry – immediately.
Let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of credentialing and privileging when it comes to new technology.
The FDA strictly regulates new pharmaceutical treatments or drugs. However, there’s very little oversight of the introduction of new devices, and no oversight whatsoever for new surgical techniques. And since innovative new technologies and procedures seem to be introduced into clinical and surgical practices more often than politicians on the campaign trail kiss babies... well, you get the problem.
Until recently, most healthcare facilities relied on the expertise of those who introduced the new technologies to train or credential staff. Who’s typically responsible for the introduction of new technologies? Well, the technology’s creators or manufacturers. And while the manufacturer of new technology probably has the most experience using the product, relying on them to train staff doesn’t create a conflict of interest at all, right? Again... you can probably see the problem.
The risk becomes even more apparent when you take into account the fact that manufacturing representatives often take part in hospital credentialing and privileging processes – sometimes even deciding which surgeons are allowed to perform specific procedures.
The current ruling implies that the responsibility for training, credentialing, and privileging surgeons to use new technology and practices belongs to the physicians themselves, or the hospitals or medical facilities that employ them (see the recent court case cited by the University of Michigan researchers). This means that surgeons, physicians, and their employers could face legal liability for any operation or use of technology if a patient cries foul and alleges harm or suffering.
Dr. Dimick sums it up in an interview (available here, in audio format) where he states that a manufacturer’s effort to market and distribute new technology often creates patient demand for new options – sometimes before testing or training programs have been developed. Demand that’s nice for the manufacturer, but potentially scary for practitioners.
“We should acknowledge that new technologies and new procedures have benefits, but that sometimes the technology gets ahead of the evidence,” says Dimick. “We need to rein in the technology so that it doesn't extend beyond where we know it's beneficial, and where there are knowledge gaps, we have to perform rigorous studies to address them.”
According to Dimick, minimal guidelines exist to help physicians and medical facilities determine what qualifies as ‘adequate training’. This lack of guidance and oversight casts a shadow over the assurance of patient safety, and leaves medical facilities and their physicians vulnerable to legal action and other risks.
But don’t call in the legal beagles just yet. Although many facilities don’t yet have access to the third-party training that would fix these issues, hospitals may soon see the benefit of more in-depth training and credentialing that utilizes privilege criteria developed by research experts is available for organizations as a compliment to their internal policies.
Another avenue of improvement includes peer-to-peer review of training and performance. Experienced, independent surgeons could review the performance of other physicians and offer feedback and ratings to define their skill level. Prior research into peer review systems shows that the ratings of surgeons directly correlated to post-procedural results and patient recovery.
Establishing a consistent and comprehensive approach to healthcare credentialing and physician privileging isn't just a good idea. It's an absolute necessity. A cohesive system of review will not only give hospitals and medical facilities less risk of litigation, it will help them to determine who’s qualified to safely use new technology and techniques – and who may require further training. So, what are you waiting for, go do it!
Ultimately, this will help practitioners and facilities to do what they do best: ensure the health, safety, and well-being of their patients and protect them from unnecessary harm.
So how can symplr help?
Well, we believe that it’s important to invest in a good privileging system that comes complete with a detailed privilege library that‘s done all the detailed research for you and keeps up with the latest medical devices, technology and procedures.
And guess, what, we just happen to have one, right here ☺
We’ve done all the work for you. We researched ABMS and AOA certification requirements and ACGME and AOA residency programs; consulted with medical directors at major teaching institutions and centers of excellence; compiled the positions and recommendations of medical societies, academies and associations; and reviewed information on new procedures and technology from the FDA and medical device manufacturers… So you don’t have to!
These multi-source compilations provide you with the most comprehensive information on hospital privileges available anywhere. More complete and pertinent than any "free" source and more current than any published "hard copies."
symplr is the industry leader in offering simple, easy-to-implement compliance and credentialing software and services for hospitals and healthcare facilities. symplr provides companies with a means of provider credentialing and a way to manage anyone and everyone entering a facility. Along with provider credentialing and vendor credentialing services, symplr offers a broad range of additional software and services such as payor enrollment, general credentialing, professional practice reporting, provider privileging, peer review, event reporting, visitor management, and exclusion screening.
About Tracey Meyer
Tracey Meyer is responsible for all symplr software product management, and was in the Cactus Software product development group for 2 years before being selected to helm the product management team for symplr. She brings 20 years of business and technical software experience building products to simplify and enhance the user experience for her clients.