“symplr helps ensure vendor reps have access to our medical staff only when they’ve been invited to attend a procedure or they’ve made appointments to discuss a particular product. The app makes it incredibly easy to get to the documentation you need to see – the reps no longer have to carry their documentation with them.”- Chip Geiger, purchasing manager
At Mercyhealth, a symplr vendor credentialing system client since 2008, Chip Geiger, purchasing manager, now has the paperless credentialing and mobile check-in app he’s always known would improve compliance and decrease the vendor visits that violate hospital vendor credentialing policies.
“The vendor visits that are in violation are down to 7% from 27%, and 21% of vendor reps now check in via the app,” says Geiger, who knew he wanted to make use of the mobile vendor credentialing app after seeing it at a symplr demonstration. “The mobile app and paperless credentialing make compliance and check-in as easy as possible, maximize our nearly 500 vendor reps’ compliance, and minimize vendor violations.”
Mercyhealth’s original hospital, now over 65 years old, has approximately 50 entrances, of which just a handful were equipped for vendor check-in. The mobile, paperless app allows remote vendor check-in from any location, on- or off-site.
Before the app and paperless credentialing, vendor reps had to find the closest check-in station. Geiger recognized that, realistically, when vendors couldn’t find the check-in terminal or decided it was too far to walk because they were running late, they may be tempted to opt out of checking in.
“You have to make it incredibly convenient to check in or it’s virtually guaranteed that some vendor reps will locate one entry point we don’t monitor,” says Geiger.
Smartphone App Facilities Rep Compliance
Vendor reps now use the smartphone app to select the hospital or facility they plan to visit, the app screens and verifies their credentials, and symplr assigns them a two-dimensional barcode. At Mercyhealth, in addition to showing their symplr hard badge, vendors simply show hospital staff the barcode on their smartphones to demonstrate compliance and confirm their check-in. Vendors can also use a timestamped mobile day pass available within the symplr app. Virtually every other American hospital also requires a printed day badge, so the ability to use the app to demonstrate compliance without having to hunt for a check-in kiosk and print out a badge is a game-changer for vendor representatives.
The staff at Mercyhealth know the reps who regularly visit their departments because they typically see them at least weekly. While Geiger understands the traditional reliance on the day pass as a visual cue signaling compliance, he believed there had to be a better way.
“We want our staff looking at people’s faces, not their day passes, and taking the initiative if they don’t recognize them,” says Geiger. He notes that in many areas of the facility, vendor reps are typically the only people wearing suits or business casual instead of scrubs, making them easy to spot at a glance. “We need them to know that our staff is paying attention and we want to eliminate the delays and hassles that can be associated with printing badges.”
Vendor reps supply everything from heart valves and tongue depressors to bottled water and pharmaceuticals, so doctors and other staff have a legitimate need for vendor reps to come into the facility. Unfortunately, those visits can be disruptive when they are not carefully monitored and controlled. In post-operative waiting rooms, vendors have been known to waylay doctors who are about to meet with patients’ families to provide updates.
“symplr helps ensure vendor reps have access to our medical staff only when they’ve been invited to attend a procedure or they’ve made appointments to discuss a particular product,” says Geiger. “The app makes it incredibly easy to get to the documentation you need to see – the reps no longer have to carry their documentation with them.”
Because symplr has been highly responsive and generally open to configuring its systems to a facility’s unique policies, Geiger decided to ask whether paperless credentialing was an option. symplr responded to his request, and Mercyhealth’s vendors have been using the symplr app and paperless credentialing since 2017.
“Thanks to symplr, Mercyhealth is now paper sparse and may eventually become truly paperless,” says Geiger. “Together, Mercyhealth and symplr really are setting a precedent.”
Vendor Reps Learn to Make Check-In a Priority
As vendor reps realize Mercyhealth staff will ask them to confirm their check-in status if they don’t recognize them, they’re making check-in a priority. And as more and more reps rely on the app to check in, they’ll talk to their peers about how quick and easy it is, and app use will continue to increase.
In 2019, Mercyhealth will open a new hospital and medical center campus on Riverside Boulevard in Rockford, Illinois. Amidst the many vital design considerations, the new facility was designed to control and facilitate access and traffic flow. In addition, all ORs will feature wall-mounted screens that use the symplr web app to display the names of all vendors that are currently checked into the facility. Geiger considers it an important feature that he plans to replicate in other new facilities.
“Putting that symplr vendor credentialing dashboard where everyone can see it makes credentialing and compliance top of mind,” says Geiger. “Credentialing is about protecting our patients, staff, and hospitals to manage risk and reduce liability concerns.”
As a purchasing professional with a decades-long career in healthcare, Geiger sits on symplr’s customer advisory board and presents at the Association for Healthcare Resource and Materials Management (AHRMM) conferences.
“Mercyhealth likes being ahead of the pack and because going paperless is not yet widely accepted, I want to express the value it has brought to Mercyhealth so that my colleagues know it’s a viable option that delivers results,” says Geiger, who notes symplr is the credentialing platform of choice in Rockford and at its clinics, its Janesville locations and will be rolled out at Riverside in early 2019. “Sharing best practices and processes is the key to continuous improvement for your organization.”