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Four Benefits of Using Echo to Automate and Standardize Healthcare Credentialing, Licensing, and Privileging

vRad is the leading national teleradiology services and telemedicine company, with over 500 U.S. board-certified and eligible physicians. Their physicians interpret and process patient imaging studies on the world’s largest and most advanced radiology PACS for 2,100 client hospitals, health systems, and radiology group facilities in all 50 states. At the core of the company, vRad has a Physician Services team that manages the Credentialing, Licensing, and Hospital Privileging (CLP) processes. Accredited by the Joint Commission, vRad’s CLP department consists of 50 dedicated professionals maintaining more than 8,000 state licenses and over 80,000 privileges. Until 2014, vRad maintained steady growth and the team was able to keep up with onboarding. In 2014, the company began to anticipate that the coming years would bring significant growth. At that point, they were adding 20-30 new radiologists to their practice each year and would be unable to support further growth without hiring additional staff.

vRad went live with Echo Credentialing in October 2014, allowing the Physician Services team to keep up with over 100% growth in new radiologists in the following year. According to Physician Services Manager Angie Kozicky, vRad was reaching a tipping point. “Given our growth, we were quickly approaching an impasse where we either needed to add people to our team, which wasn’t appealing from a budget standpoint, or to extend onboarding timeframes, which wasn’t a good outcome for our physicians or clients. Implementing Echo was the perfect solution for us.”

Identifying Barriers to Growth

vRad identified that a major hindrance to growth was that CLP processes were done manually—initial credentialing, reappointments, and primary source verification (PSV) statuses were all tracked in spreadsheets. Additionally, there was not a single source of truth for radiologist files within vRad. Different departments had access to different secure files, so if one team needed to obtain certain information, another department would need to pull the information for them—this was a time-consuming process.

Impacts of Utilizing Echo

vRad’s transition to Echo allowed vRad’s CLP team to significantly improve their processes, making it possible to accommodate company growth without increasing the department’s budget or onboarding timeframes. Shifting from the manual completion of thousands of applications to doing everything electronically is a drastic, time-intensive change, but it reaps huge rewards. vRad staff identified four major areas where they noted significant change in the first couple of years, as follows:  

  1. File Cleanup: Kozicky reports that their biggest initial success was file cleanup. “When we first started using Echo, the most important gain was having one source of truth. There was a lot of initial cleanup, but having one source has been a huge time saver for us.” This empowered team members to find the information they needed and eliminated the back and forth between departments. EchoCredentialing includes ability to thwart access to secure information, and to give read-only access, minimizing the risk of erroneous data. Having one source for information also keeps providers from receiving repeat requests for the same information, as any changes are tracked in one place in real time.
  2. Automation: Every time the CLP team members roll out a new feature of Echo, they gain additional automation that allows them to continuously streamline their processes. For example, before vRad went live with Echo, the team tracked state board requirements in spreadsheets that CLP team members continually audited for accuracy. This was a time-consuming but necessary process because if a medical license package was sent to a state board missing even a single piece of information, the licensing time frame became significantly extended. After Echo was launched, the team was able to build out specific workflow steps for the unique requirements and automate the processes.

    Additional automations through EchoCredentialing include PSV, workflows, checklists, emails, and requests for specific provider information. Every automation allows the CLP team to save time and money and keep up with a growing number of physicians to onboard.

  3. Budget: With vRad’s transition to EchoCredentialing, the team was able to stay in line on a much more scalable budget. One major cut in costs came as the result of giving vRad facility customers read-only access to selected EchoCredentialing information on demand, 24 hours a day. Since gaining this access, some customers eliminated credentialing fees that they typically charged to vRad.
  4. Customer Satisfaction: Kozicky comments that “improving customer satisfaction was a high priority for the company.” She adds that without direct access to provider files, clients had to wait on paper packets containing updated information. Now with the customer-facing portal, vRad’s clients are able to electronically access updated information as they need it.

This post is taken from the Fall 2017 HealthStream Provider Advisor. Download the full issue here.

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