The pandemic forced all of us to adapt in extreme ways. The most notable? The explosion of remote work. Before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement in early May indicating that that fully vaccinated people can forgo masks in most settings, Gallup reported that the majority of U.S. workers were working remotely during the pandemic, including 51% in April.
In our 2021 Annual Report on Medical Staff Credentialing, we gathered valuable insights from 1,008 surveyed Medical Staff Professionals (MSPs) into the impact working remotely had on them. Here’s a look at a few of their top challenges…
First and foremost, the pandemic meant MSPs were sent home almost overnight and had to embrace working remotely with no adjustment period, dedicated training, or guidance. Many MSPs thought their work could not be done remotely, but were quickly proved wrong. They adapted and not only survived, but thrived. Technology was key in their ability to pivot.
Though telehealth had been around for years, it wasn’t a service that was often used. In many cases telehealth wasn’t covered by payors like Medicare, but that quickly changed when COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency. Overnight, doctors and other healthcare providers were authorized to use telehealth services to treat COVID-19 (and other medically reasonable conditions) from offices, hospitals, and places of residence (like homes, nursing homes, and assisted living facilities).
MSPs learned to expeditiously credential telehealth providers by adopting technology that not only enabled electronic applications but facilitated them too. Our survey, for example, found that electronic signatures are increasingly being accepted as part of an application packet. In fact, 53% of those surveyed no longer require “wet” signatures and only 5.5% require more than 10 signatures to be “wet” to consider an application complete.
Our research also found that there is an even split between organizations that use “credentialing by proxy” for telehealth providers, with 45.2% either using it or not, and 9.5% indicating not applicable. “Credentialing by proxy” not only enabled MSPs to more easily work remotely, it also reduced the overall amount of time and resources involved in completing the process. Had we not been forced to embrace remote work, we may not have realized the true value of credentialing by proxy until much later.
Our survey also showed that organizations are becoming more open to implementing a single online application throughout their hospital systems. In 2017, only 59.5% of organizations had implemented a single online application process, whereas in 2021 that number leapt up to 73.6%. Working remotely showed MSPs that it’s possible - even necessary - to be able complete applications from anywhere at anytime, and having a single online application is the way to make that happen.
We believe having one application makes sense for general productivity, but especially as more and more organizations begin to transition back to in-person work, or a hybrid model. With one centralized source, every team member, regardless of location, can contribute to, collaborate on, and complete an application.
Before the pandemic, many of us never dreamed we’d be working remotely. The MSPs we surveyed realize it’s important to remain curious about how they do things as we forge ahead. Just because a certain task has always been completed in one way, it doesn’t mean it can’t be changed. If MSPs hadn't been open to change, they may have crumbled under the pressure of maintaining the status quo during the pandemic.
As they move ahead, MSPs realize they need to asking questions of themselves constantly, as that will determine what needs to be reevaluated in order to provide the best in patient care.
The explosion of remote work was not without its challenges, but MSPs were able to pivot and adapt new ways of working that is improving the overall credentialing process for the long haul. For more details, grab your copy of the report and check out our webinar discussing the key findings. If you are thinking about making the switch to electronic privileging or credentialing, we can help. Schedule a free demo today.