Why Communication Is the Key to Vendor Credentialing Success

Communication is key when implementing vendor credentialing for healthcare systems, hospitals.Recently, St. Luke’s Health System in Boise, ID, went through a reimplementation of symplr’s Vendor Credentialing program. We're considered a medium-sized integrated delivery network (IDN), but with 13,000 employees across seven facilities, we quickly realized how essential streamlined communication with our workforce and with business and industry partners, such as vendors, would be in making this change.

Managing vendors, contractors, or others requiring access is a complex job with a lot at stake, including patient safety. An access and vendor credentialing solution makes it easy for external parties to fully comply with your policies and requirements, and efficient for your team to manage relationships, mitigate risks, and stay in compliance with ever-evolving regulations.

Below are examples of how we communicated with internal and external populations to achieve best practices and maintain the smoothest transition possible.

Vendor communication

In our case, a large segment of our healthcare industry representatives (HCIRs), or sales representatives, were already registered with symplr, but they were primarily OR-related. As a result, we were missing a significant number of other reps who came through our doors. The very first thing we had to do was identify them to communicate with them and set clear expectations.

The downside is that our health system did not have a central list of suppliers in any single system used. We tried to compile a list from various email groups, adding as many items as we could. We also sent out blanket group email communications, and that was our best starting point to work from in the absence of a source of truth solution.

Roughly 60 days before our “go live” with symplr, we sent out a communication to every HCIR with whom we had an active contract and/or a current business relationship, and our motto was to “keep it symplr.” As clearly as possible, we relayed what was happening and when we expected to fully implement our new vendor communication solution. We gave the HCIRs 60-days to comply and explained that, starting on that go live date, they would receive a red light upon trying to enter the facility if they were not registered and compliant.

In that same communication with these key industry partners, we also sent a list of FAQs to address the who, what, when, where, how, and why—and followed it with a Q&A webinar to allow those reps to call in and ask questions. While there was not widespread participation in the webinar, it served as another important avenue for those who did attend, and we recorded it to provide it upon request. 

The last piece of of our vendor communication strategy was a request of HCIRs to to provide information about which of our facilities they expected to visit and/or conduct business in. We made it a policy to add that data in our industry partners' profiles and then tailor the communication to each rep: Because some of our sites have nuances, we wanted to ensure they knew:

  • Which facilities required appointments
  • Where the check-in stations were located in each facility
  • How to make appointments
  • Other site-specific details

Our idea was to include that data in their profiles so that we could always refer to it. When these questions inevitably came up, we were able to say, “We've conveniently provided that information for you in your profile so you'll know exactly what you need to do when planning your site visit.”

Our go-live date happened before the first vendor communication. We wanted them to be within a few days of each other so the communication wasn’t lost. If an HCIR was going to set an appointment, it would happen within a very short amount of time and they would already have received the communication from supply chain about the big changes afoot.

Internal communication

When it came to apprising our own staff about the new vendor credentialing and communication contract, we took a slightly different tack. As we did with the HCIRs, we conducted a webinar for our department contacts (those who would be end users of symplr and receive the appointment requests). We conducted three sessions on three different days and times to accommodate all schedules. We explained that what was going to happen and what the appointments would look like from their perspective as a clinician or St. Luke’s employee. They were also shown what the user interface looked like from the sales rep’s perspective to better understand how the communication process would work as the request was entered, approved, etc.

We also sent out a simple letter to medical staff and affiliated physicians to apprise them of the changes, and this letter was endorsed by our business partner of supply chain, who is also a physician.

Next, for the all-staff email, we again wanted to keep it "symplr." The email was brief (one page) and had no attachments. We framed it terms of “how does it affect me?” Once again, we stated what was happening, identified the staff's and the supplier’s role in the change, and provided a few all-staff question and answer webinars. We sent the email out to all staff email and put the notice into our system weekly newsletter.

Since we have such a large workforce, we wanted to ensure that we not only communicated out to our staff, but had a destination where they could go to find more information. It was determined that the best place for this was a “self help” page on our intranet where we listed all information about the changes, provided a link to the policy, links to the symplr site, and contact information for symplr staff. I’m pleased to report that this site was frequently visited. 

To conclude, we felt that our reimplementation of symplr’s Vendor Credentialing in our facility went extremely well, and effective communication was a huge reason for that success. 

Learn more about symplr Access Management and symplr Vendor Credentialing.

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