How Medical Staff Services Can Adapt to the Growing Physician Employment Trend
In recent years, healthcare organizations have experienced an expansion of physician employment. The healthcare landscape is changing compared to what it looked like ten years ago, but what does this mean for Medical Staff Services? I recently attended a National Association Medical Staff Services (NAMSS) webinar titled, “Employment of Practitioners: The Critical Role of the Medical Staff Office.” During the session, attorney Barbara Blackmond of law firm Horty, Springer & Mattern shared key advice for medical services professionals (MSPs) in adapting to the growing trend.
Here are a few key takeaways from Blackmond’s session.
Develop Cohesive Policies and Procedures
Although human resources departments typically control the physician contracting process, MSPs should play a key role in the intersection of the contracting and credentialing processes. “Make sure the commencement of employment is contingent on the acquisition of medical staff appointment and privileges,” Blackmond recommends. This is just one example of where the policies should act in harmony, but the key takeaway is to cross-reference the HR policies with the medical staff services bylaws and policies to ensure there are no conflicts.
Establish and Enforce Uniform Credentialing and Screening Standards
Some healthcare positions, and practitioners are no exception, can experience strong pressures to fill when they represent a dire need for the organization. Despite pressures from affiliates in recruiting, MSPs should remain consistent in the credentialing process. “There are no shortcuts in credentialing,” Blackmond explains. “You need to have uniform standards. You need to do the same due diligence and background checking that you do for everyone.” In order to screen physicians properly, MSPs should work with HR to establish a standardized background screening process that applies to any practitioner, whether they are employed or not.
Move Away from Silos and Collaborate with HR
In the new era of physician employment, silos are no longer an effective organization form. In order to succeed in the new healthcare environment, MSPs need to get to know their HR counterparts. “Regardless of location, get to know the individuals who are involved in recruitment and those who are involved in developing physician contracts,” Blackmond says. “MSPs and recruiters should work together so that recruiters understand the credentialing process, ‘red flags,’ as well as threshold criteria.” Besides aligning the background screening process, sharing the Medical Staff Services eligibility criteria with HR is key to enforcing consistent standards.
Provide Credentialing Training for HR
While getting to know their HR counterparts is a good first step, MSPs should provide training and educate them on the credentialing processes. “Make sure they have a copy of the criteria contained in your medical staff bylaws or credentialing policies,” Blackmond says. While HR shouldn’t necessarily be expected to take on credentialing duties, providing them with the education and background can help them understand the importance behind each step. It can help them become better partners as MSPs collaborate to standardize processes, mitigate risk, and uphold patient safety standards.
With the rise of physician employment in recent years, the role of the medical staff office is evolving, but it remains focused on ensuring patient safety. Have you aligned your credentialing processes with HR? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below.