New uses for technology can make the credentialing process for medical providers faster, more accessible, and more affordable through paperless credentialing. Paperless credentialing has been growing in popularity with credential verification organizations over the past three years because of faster turnaround time, the ease of letting multiple people access credentialing information, and lower overhead to maintain files. Security measures need to be in place to protect the information, but paperless credentialing allows good credentialing services the flexibility to offer better service and additional reports and information.
The process for paperless credentialing and traditional credentialing is the same. The provider supplies information on an application and some supporting documentation; the different licensing boards, schools, hospitals, previous employers, and other listed organizations are contacted, which return further verifying documents. Other organizations, such as disciplinary committees, are also contacted to request verifying documents. All of these are compiled into a file and are used to create an audit report on the provider.
With paperless credentialing, all reports documents and necessary documents are managed and accessed electronically. As the verification documents are submitted through the credentialing process, they are scanned into the database and stored as image files. The technology is simple to learn and use; files are stored in a standard database and are in common formats such as TIF or PDF. The report on the provider is created and stored only as an electronic file and is ultimately saved as a locked image file, as well. These reports are accessed by clients over the Internet through a standard web browser, making access at any time and to any number of users very easy. Since clients can access their reports immediately when they are finished, it shortens the credentialing process.
Paperless credentialing offers many benefits over the traditional way:The process is faster because mailing times are cut out.The process is cheaper because it is less expensive to store and manage electronic files instead of paper documents.The files are safer and of higher quality since multiple copies can be stored in multiple locations without diminishing quality from photocopying. The risk of losing or damaging the original paper copy is greatly reduced.Good credentialing services will offer complete document storage for all of the verification documents, not just the final reports created by the credentialing service about the provider. All supporting documents are scanned, stored with the provider’s files, and accessed by the client over the web. This allows clients to view the images of the actual verification documents, not only the data from those documents.Security precautions must be taken by the credentialing company to make sure that the information is secure:All the paper copies of the supporting documents and the provider-supplied documents should be immediately scanned and stored in the database, and the hard copies shredded or safely destroyed to prevent tampering.All files should be locked once they are received or the reports are completed so that no one can alter the images.There should be daily backups of the database.Backup tapes or disks should be stored in a separate location in case of fire, loss, or damage.The servers should have regular maintenance, including virus scanning. Web access should be protected by unique, assigned user names and passwords.Paperless credentialing introduces flexibility into the credentialing process: it is easier for multiple people to access information at a single time without having to make copies; turnaround time is much faster, since files do not have to be mailed, verified, and returned physically; the visual quality of the documents is higher. An emphasis on using technology, combined with robust security measures, means the credentialing service is adaptable and better able to serve clients over time.