Baystate Health's New Digital Peer Referencing Integration Is a Dream Come True



Located in Springfield, MA

PROVIDERS: 1,600 physicians and 601 associate professionals


BEDS: 980






  • Up to a five-week turnaround time on peer reference requests

  • Just 70% of peer references are returned correct and complete

  • Peer referencing bottlenecks delay new hires’ start dates

  • Resulting doctor shortages challenge departments’ resource management and scheduling

  • Peer reference delays negatively affect compliance ratings and customer satisfaction

  • Salaried credentialing staff work overtime to keep files current

  • Credentialing staff spend 60% of their time on peer referencing


symplr Provider, a provider data management software solution, integrated with SkillSurvey digital peer referencing



  • 20-minute turnaround on peer reference requests: 1,920% faster

  • 98% of peer references are properly completed and returned: a 28% improvement

  • New hires start on time

  • Provider availability facilitates departmental resource management and scheduling

  • Faster peer referencing improves compliance ratings and customer satisfaction (50%)

  • Credentialing staff keep files current without overtime

  • Credentialers spend 10% of their time on peer referencing

As a result of the SkillSurvey digital peer referencing solution that integrates with symplr Provider, peer referencing is infinitely better for everyone involved, from the providers and their respetive department heads, to Baystate’s credentialing staff.

Credentialing staff now get peer references back in just 20 minutes, not five weeks, a whopping 1,920% improvement, thanks to the symplr/SkillSurvey solution. As importantly, staff spend just a couple of minutes rather than up to two hours on peer referencing for each provider—devoting 10% rather than 60% of their time to peer referencing, as they previously did. The bulk of their time had been spent tracking status, sending reminders, and following up on incomplete references.

The symplr/SkillSurvey solution that made these efficiencies possible also cost Baystate 70% less than hiring an additional full-time staff member. This strategy had been considered to eliminate the extra work and hours the credentialing team logged to keep Baystate providers’ files current.

“The peer referencing tool has dramatically improved compliance ratings, increased customer satisfaction levels by an impressive 50%, and enhanced the credentialing team’s overall efficiency,” says Barbara E. Prats, manager, BH CVO, BayState Health, SkillSurvey user and beta tester. “Before the symplr/SkillSurvey solution, peer referencing was the most manually demanding and slowest aspect of the credentialing process.”

With two decades of credentialing experience, Prats knew exactly what Baystate Health’s credentialing staff needed after discovering SkillSurvey’s automated reference checking software at an industry event. Baystate Health already relied on symplr Provider, a provider data management software solution for hospitals and health systems, and integrating the two made perfect sense. Once Prats made the introductions, symplr and SkillSurvey worked together to make the new solution available.

“It was my idea, they ran with it, and it’s worked out well for all of us,” says Prats.

Integrating digital peer references via an instantly accessible, digital questionnaire expedites the process for the credentialing team and third-party responders. All provider data flows between the systems to make it quick and easy to access more accurate data when doing verifications.

Why do peers now fill out and return the peer references forms in 20 minutes rather than up to five weeks? As Prats explains it, they complete the peer reference forms immediately because the symplr/SkillSurvey solution makes it so easy to do from their smart phones, tablets, laptops, and other devices. They simply key their responses into the required fields sequentially to complete and digitally submit the reference forms. They’re not misplacing the forms, printing and scanning them, or looking for pens, fax machines, envelopes, or stamps to return them to Baystate.



The integration allows Baystate to enter applicants and references into symplr Provider, then use SkillSurvey’s efficient digital peer referencing. The highly automated, digitized process also sends reminders to peers who have not responded and will flag references if necessary. For most symplr customers, the integration of symplr/SkillSurvey takes just a few weeks.

The SkillSurvey application even has a dashboard that shows the status of requests. Because credentialing professionals like Prats already receive more than 100 emails daily, she wanted only the completed, returned forms—not dozens to hundreds of status emails.

“We trust the symplr/SkillSurvey solution to send the requests and reminders if necessary. We don’t want status emails clogging up our inboxes,” says Prats. “Peer reference used to be one of the most onerous and time-consuming aspects of credentialing.”

Once forms are completed and electronically signed by physicians and other peer responders, data is automatically loaded into symplr Provider to seamlessly fulfill credentialing requirements. Because 98% of peer reference requests are correctly completed and returned the same day, up from 70% before the symplr/SkillSurvey integration, there are fewer reminders and zero reference do-over requests.

At any given time, the credentialing team is typically handling up to 250+ new hires and recredentialing more than 150 providers. New hires are ongoing (three peer references each) and recredentialing (two peer references each) takes place every two years. The symplr/SkillSurvey solution sends out the three peer reference request letters required per each new provider hire in less than a minute versus the 20 to 25 minutes when handled manually by staff.


Before the symplr/SkillSurvey solution, Baystate used symplr to create the letters that were then sent via email, fax, and regular mail. Tracking how each letter had been sent and its status was confusing and inefficient, particularly since most peers required multiple, additional reminders. Because so many of the submitted references were illegible and/or incomplete, further follow-up was then required.

It was a real waste of time and an absolute nightmare because we had to physically touch every doctor’s file and follow up so many times. We now invest five to 10 minutes per file instead of up to 120 minutes,” says Prats. “I’m so glad symplr and SkillSurvey listened when I suggested that together they could provide the solution that would benefit Baystate and so many other credentialing departments.”

At Baystate, the symplr/SkillSurvey integration:

  1. Digitized Baystate Health’s three standard peer reference evaluation forms
  2. Initiates peer reference outreach for providers
  3. Sends requested privileges, authorization for information, and evaluation forms to references
  4. Receives peer reference outreach status updates
  5. Automatically cascades completed peer reference data into symplr Provider

“The SkillSurvey digital peer referencing solution that’s integrated with symplr Provider really is priceless,” says Prats. “It is awesome and the credentialing team absolutely loves what it does for us every single day.”

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