The State of Medical Staff Services in 2015: 4 Things MSPs Should Know

The State of Medical Staff Services in 2015: 4 Things MSPs Should Know
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The healthcare industry has been facing major changes, and medical services professionals are no exception. “Things have changed dramatically over the last five years,” says Joel Yohai, MD, MS, a quality improvement consultant at Joint Commission Resources.

As we approach 2015, we wanted to take a look at some of the most pressing issues facing MSPs and their leaders.

Physicians on Staff

As more healthcare organizations take on physicians as employees, experts say MSPs are on the front lines. If a physician is fired by HR without going through a medical staff process, it can cause problems, says National Association Medical Staff Services President-Elect Linda Waldorf, BS, CPMSM, CPCS and Director of OMSS and CVO at UNC Health Care System.

The employed physician model can create additional conflict with community providers who aren’t employees, Waldorf says. “Greater attention needs to be paid to maintaining trust and sense of fair treatment for services and resources to all physicians.”

New federal oversight may also add stress for MSPs, says Lowell Brown, an attorney, partner and national leader of the Health Care Practice Group at Arent Fox LLP. In its work plan for 2015, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office of the Inspector General says hospital privileging is one item it will be focusing on. “Historically, MSPs have not had to worry about the OIG scrutinizing what they do,” Brown says.


Bringing more physicians on as employees has also expanded credentialing duties for many medical staff services departments as they work to incorporate new standards from The Joint Commission, CMS and state regulatory agencies, Waldorf says. Maintaining quick and effective credentialing and onboarding processes that adhere to standards will continue to be a challenge. And as front-line keepers of those standards, MSPs will continue to play a role in ensuring only competent practitioners are allowed to practice.

Peer Reviews

The peer review process will be an important issue for medical staff services professionals in 2015, says Erin Muellenberg, also an attorney with the Health Care Practice Group at Arent Fox. Medical staff services need to follow the peer review process carefully and maintain confidentiality.

“At a very basic level, MSS offices need to develop and follow through with the peer review process,” adds Tim Adelman, an attorney at LeClairRyan. “That process ensures quality, not just liability. Are you providing services that are necessary and consistent with patient care?”

It’s important that MSPs educate staff members about peer reviews and reinforce the idea that reviews are for education and rehabilitation, not punishment, Mullenberg says. “It’s only in the final circumstance, when there’s no alternative, that it becomes punitive,” she says. “To get good outcomes, educate the medical staff of the goal of the peer review.”

Standardization of Care

MSPs will continue to play a role in the standardization of care, which is key to achieving better patient outcomes, Yohai says. “Evidence points to the standardization of care through clinical pathways and protocols, and that’s what I think is better for patient care.”

Waldorf agrees. “MSS leaders will continue to learn and support quality metrics to develop meaningful Ongoing Professional Practice Evaluation and Focused Professional Practice Evaluation profiles that encourage best practice and continuous quality improvement for physicians and other independent licensed practitioners caring for our patients,” she says.

Clearly, 2015 looks to be a busy year for MSPs as they address these challenges, changes and more in their important roles. What are your top initiatives for 2015?

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