Medical Staff Services Trends for 2019 and Beyond
Long the gatekeepers of patient safety within the healthcare industry, medical services professionals (MSPs) are taking on more complex roles as the industry continues to shift to value-based care rather than a volume-based model.
The National Association Medical Staff Services (NAMSS) says in its 2018 State of the Medical Services Profession Report that standardization, consolidation and the increasing importance of quality metrics will redefine the role of MSPs play in organizations in the coming years.
“MSPs must remain acutely aware of how these changes will impact their profession, and have the ability to enhance their knowledge and presence within their respective organizations,” the report says.
With Medical Staff Services Awareness Week upon us, here are three industry trends for MSPs to watch in 2019 and beyond.
Telemedicine Continues to Grow
Heidi Henderson, Vice President of Credentialing for 1st Assistant Credentialing Services in Austin, Texas, says telemedicine is already widespread in the healthcare industry and is expected to grow in the coming years, presenting unique challenges for MSPs.
“Now it’s in every sort of rural facility you can think of,” she says. “More and more corporations are offering it directly to employees.”
The rapid expansion of telehealth raises important issues for MSPs, particularly in rural and small clinics, when it comes to the credentialing of physicians and other healthcare providers. Henderson says efficient privileging is of special concern for hospitals and other healthcare organizations that rely on telemedicine.
“Privileging of course, like anything in credentialing, takes time,” she says. “Usually doctors need to get in right away to help and privileging may or may not be granted right away, so that’s an issue. It just takes some time to do those things, and with telemedicine it seems that everything is a rush.”
Digitizing Systems and Processes
The number of software solutions for credentialing and related processes has grown rapidly in recent years as organizations move to digitize their records and operations. “Digital credentialing technologies present an exciting opportunity for the healthcare industry, but need to be addressed with a keen eye towards potential obstacles and pitfalls,” NAMSS says in its recent report on its Future of Digital Credentialing roundtable.
Jennifer Vines, founder and CEO of credentialing software company Eddy, says she still sees a wide disconnect between executives at the medical staff offices at all types of healthcare organizations, with many higher-ups still reluctant to invest in new credentialing technologies.
“The executives don’t seem to understand that the medical staff office needs updated software,” she says. “What they don’t see is that credentialing and background checks are the birth of the revenue cycle. If you don’t have that, what else do you have? Because providers can’t see patients, patients can run up charges and the hospital can’t bill for them.”
Vines says as more providers enter the industry and the complexity of the MSP job function increases, burnout rates will rise if organizations fail to adapt to the times with more efficient processes.
“The executives and the higher levels at a facility are putting so much pressure on them and forcing them to do it on antiquated software,” she says. “They get frustrated because they need a provider to start work yesterday and that can’t happen in credentialing. You have to maintain regulations and adhere to standards. It could be a much more efficient job.”
Ancillary Roles See Expansion
Henderson says it’s clear ancillary providers are becoming more popular throughout the healthcare industry, particularly med-level positions such as nurse practitioners and physicians assistants.
“They’re being used in broader roles when they can, when before they were maybe stuck in an office and just seeing patients,” she says. “That’s not always the case any more.”
They are also spending more time working in hospitals, she says, which requires additional credentialing and hospital privileges that MSPs will have to manage moving forward.