4 Key Medical Staff Services Challenges in 2017 and How to Overcome Them

4 Key Medical Staff Services Challenges in 2017 and How to Overcome Them
Director of Credentialing Programs

National Medical Staff Services Awareness Week is a great time to take a look at what’s on the horizon for medical services professionals (MSPs) in the coming year.

“The delivery of healthcare continues to reinvent itself,” says Sally Pelletier, Chief Credentialing Officer of The Greeley Co., a healthcare consulting firm based in the Boston area. “MSPs will be faced with a variety of challenges that are a result of this reinvention. MSPs must both continue to evolve and embrace new trends and needs in our industry while staying true to our roots: being the first line of defense for patients.”

Here are some of the challenges MSPs will be facing in the coming year.

The Switch from Volume to Value

As payments to physicians and other practitioners are increasingly based on quality outcomes, the work of MSPs will continue to be affected, says Bonnie Gutierrez, President of the Board of Directors of the National Association Medical Staff Services (NAMSS). “Healthcare providers will continue to have a greater interest in recruiting and retaining high-quality, rather than highly productive, practitioners,” she says. “MSPs will need to become even more knowledgeable in topics such as legal and malpractice issues, consulting, risk management, project management, medical/healthcare terminology, economics, critical thinking and leadership.”

New National Practitioner Data Bank Guidelines

Updated guidance on the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) is likely to cause some problems, says Elizabeth Snelson, President of Legal Counsel for the Medical Staff PLLC. “The Data Bank is nothing new, but the interpretations published in the new Data Bank Guidebook are, and that created new compliance headaches that are now coming into play,” she says.

The guidebook broadened the definition of “resignation” of privileges, which has to be reported during an ongoing investigation, as well as “investigation,” Snelson says. “At a minimum, medical staff services will be under the gun to figure out what is reportable and what’s not under tight Data Bank reporting deadlines,” she says. Medical staffs and their departments are scrambling to comply, she says; if your medical staff bylaws haven’t been amended to address the new Data Bank Guidebook, make that a priority for 2017.

Provider Consolidation

Combining departments and standards will continue to pose challenges as larger mergers and acquisitions are approved, and HIPAA training is one of the biggest issues, says Roger Shindell, Founder and CEO of Carosh Compliance Solutions. Positions in different organizations may have different standards when it comes to HIPAA training, and getting everyone on the same page during consolidation is vital. Specific training on an organization’s own policies and procedures, which may may change as organizations consolidate, should be a top priority, Shindell says.

An Increasingly Strategic Role

As healthcare organizations focus on quality of care and better outcomes, MSPs should be prepared to play a broader, more strategic role. MSPs are likely to be called on to manage economically driven performance criteria, Pelletier says. They should have a more thorough understanding of and ability to apply project management skills to support compliance with regulatory and legal standards for clinically integrated entities. They’ll also need to continue to collaborate with other departments, such as quality, recruitment, IT, hospital administration and the board of trustees. Doing so will help them implement internal ongoing performance improvement initiatives and address the strategic opportunities and challenges faced by the organization in improving the overall value of credentialing activities, she says.

Continued training will be vital, Gutierrez says. “MSPs will require more specialized training through additional professional experience, education, certification and certificate programs,” she says. And as technology continues to evolve, MSPs will see some responsibilities automated — requiring more specialization, she says.

Upholding standards in the face of change can be difficult, but it’s a role that has become increasingly important in the fast-moving world of healthcare. As MSPs look to the coming year, seeking strategic opportunities while rededicating themselves to serving on the front line of patient safety will help them grow along with their organizations.

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