Credentialing Telehealth Blog

Why Having a Standardized Telehealth Provider Privileging Process is Critical

November 10, 2023
November 10, 2023

We’re now three years past the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s safe to say we’re all aware of what telehealth is: remote healthcare visits via telecommunications technology. While telehealth was essential during the pandemic to allow for accessible healthcare while fostering safety, trends show its use will continue to expand as patients and physicians become more comfortable and the technology continues to improve. This is why having a standardized telehealth provider privileging process is critical. Standardizing privileges ensures you have consistent criteria for privileges across a health system and equips you to deliver next-level patient care and provider experiences. Standardization also means everybody on the medical staff can access the same information, eliminating redundancies, inefficiencies, and confusion.

Why is telehealth expanding?

Of course, during the pandemic, telehealth was a necessity. Now that the crisis is under control, it may seem unnecessary, but its use continues to gain traction. There are many reasons for this growth:

  • Improved access to care: Telehealth allows patients to seek medical help regardless of geographical obstacles. This is especially beneficial in rural areas where access may be limited.
  • Convenience: Receiving medical care from home eliminates time traveling and long wait times, making the experience more comfortable for the patient.
  • Enhanced ongoing care: Telehealth empowers healthcare providers to have more frequent visits with patients or to monitor them remotely, which is particularly useful for those struggling with chronic conditions who may need to alter treatment plans periodically.
  • Minimizing risk: As the pandemic demonstrated, telehealth allows patients to receive care without the risk of interacting with someone who may be contagious.

Telehealth can also help lower costs for patients and physicians, can be more accessible to those with inflexible schedules, and has the potential to help reduce healthcare disparities by providing equitable access to underserved populations. Since telehealth is here to stay, privileging providers for telehealth will become increasingly important.

Standardized Privileging for Telehealth Providers

The more popular telehealth becomes, the more significant the need for a standardized telehealth provider privileging process. A standardized privileging process can help ensure all providers who deliver telehealth services are qualified and competent. This can help improve patient safety and reduce the risk of medical errors.

Privileging telehealth providers requires organizations to meet the requirements issued by states, Medicare, The Joint Commission and other accrediting bodies, private payors, and regulatory bodies. Organizations must also establish strategies to safely store, share, and maintain information on telehealth providers. And they must navigate the complexities that arise from providers being privileged to provide in-person care in some facilities, and telehealth in others. It’s also critical to stay updated on the regulations that govern telehealth privileging today.

One way to tackle these hurdles is by implementing a streamlined system that seamlessly privileges, stores, manages, and shares information. With an automated system in place, like CredentialStream®, organizations can privilege telehealth providers:

  • Credentialing by proxy: This allows the hospital receiving telehealth services (known as the “Originating Site” hospital) to rely on the privileging and credentialing decisions made by the hospital or entity providing the telehealth services (known as the “Distant Site” hospital or “Distant Site Telemedicine Entity, or DSTE” respectively), so long as certain requirements are met.
  • Disaster credentialing: The standards for this require that the medical staff bylaws of the organization include a process for approving providers for the care of patients in the event of an emergency or disaster. Once a disaster has been declared, the provider's identity must be verified with a government-issued ID. The licensure must then be verified within the state.
  • Traditional credentialing: If Credentialing by Proxy or Disaster Credentialing isn’t a fit for your needs, you can always follow a traditional credentialing process. In that case, it’s important to keep in mind all accrediting organizations have requirements that must be met.


By implementing a standardized privileging process for telehealth providers, organizations can help to reduce the risk of legal liability for telehealth organizations while demonstrating they have taken reasonable steps to ensure that their providers are qualified and competent. This can also help organizations increase the efficiency of the privileging process, with a clear and concise process in place, reducing the time and resources required to privilege new providers. Implementing an automated system that is comprehensive, scalable, and effective is easier than you think, and better yet, HealthStream will ensure everything goes according to plan. We’re always here to help, simply reach out and we’ll answer any questions you might have.