Did you know Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) make up approximately 60% of the healthcare workforce?1 That’s over 6 million providers of the 11 million in our healthcare workforce with more than 85 distinct occupations exclusive of physicians and nurses.2 AHPs are experts in a multitude of therapeutic, diagnostic and preventative settings that include everything from disease prevention to rehabilitation and they, like physicians, need to be granted privileges to work in a healthcare setting.
Why Privilege AHPs?
While AHPs participate as healthcare team members in patient care under physicians or nurses, they also provide direct patient care as well. Regardless of which side of patient care they’re on, credentialing and privileging AHPs to “touch” a patient is imperative when considering them as members of your healthcare staff.
There are many organizations that recommend specific requirements or scope of practice for AHP specialties. For example, in Audiology, The American Board of Audiology and The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) offer the “Certificate of Clinical Competence”. Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners are guided by The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners-Standards of Practice and the American Nurses Credentialing Center. All organizations offer great resource information when developing privileging criteria.
State Specific Requirements
Last but not least, be sure to check with your respective state(s) in which the AHP will be practicing as there may be a ‘Scope of Practice’ in place regarding how they are licensed that may need consideration. For example, New Jersey has specific requirements for Physician Assistants, Minnesota for Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselors and Utah, Nebraska, Missouri and Florida all have unique competencies for Advanced Practice Registered Nurses.
Training & Certification for Maintaining Privileges
Many of the organizations recommending requirements for privileging AHPs also provide details on continued training and minimum certifications to maintain privileges. As with physician privilege delineation, continuing education for AHPs should be clearly outlined in your bylaws and reviewed regularly. Medical Staff Professionals (MSPs) should work in collaboration with their AHPs to ensure required training sessions are available and attended.
Re-privileging AHPs should follow the same requirements as providers, every two years. MSPs should verify all licenses are still active, no sanctions have been imposed, and quality statistics are within the organization's documented guidelines. When it comes to the “patient experience” and overall quality of healthcare provided by your organization, AHPs play a pivotal role. One could argue AHPs spend as much or even more hands on or face time with patients than providers do. And with the future of healthcare being driven by Quality, Performance Improvement and the Continuum of Care - AHPs should be considered as valuable a member of your team as anyone in your organization.
1- Center for the Health Professionals at the University of California, San Francisco
2- Health Professionals Network