The Cost of Traditional Credentialing

- August 18, 2015 -

Due to the increase in the volume of accreditation regulations around physician credentialing, the amount of information and paperwork to be accurately processed and managed creates high administrative cost when using traditional methods and tools.

Our world’s earliest physicians carried professional proof on parchments—the original “credentials”—as a qualification to practice medicine in ancient civilizations. Each physician acted as his own proprietor until the rise of medical groups or establishments similar to medical facilities today.

The task is now delegated to credential managers who play a ubiquitous role in facilities and are tasked with managing this detail-intensive process. Their workflow encompasses an arcane system of using paper checklists, spreadsheets, calendar reminders, fax machines, and the traditional paper file and cabinet.

The credential management process operates in a cycle but must be handled in a granular fashion. Before every physician appointment and reappointment, credential managers must collect information and documents for each physician, and verify these documents for veracity, in order to secure facility privileges. They must also manage periodic renewals for all credential documents which may not have coinciding expiration dates.

The weight of human resource inefficiency along with many other factors may lead to credentialing errors during the process, which can be costly for the facility. Credentialing errors, along with the personnel time needed to manage this tedious process, can cost a healthcare facility upwards of $80,000 every year. Spreadsheets and personal reminders can be seen as a step forward in credentialing history, but their capabilities will soon be overcome by newer dedicated online credential management software.

Here are 5 ways that traditional methods of credential management can result in high administrative costs:  

  1.  Traditional methods cannot efficiently support a growing volume of physicians and credentialing requirements.

Imagine managing over 30 doctors’ credentials in one master spreadsheet: there needs to be several columns representing document types and personal reminders need to be set for each document’s expiration date. Spreadsheets riddled with color-codes and note fields are commonly used to track credential documents, but can cost credential managers hours of their time to sort through each doctor accurately. On top of that, they may struggle with collecting the right documents on time through the fax machine, a multi-step and time-consuming process that needs to be attended to daily. One of the biggest pain points with this method is its dependency on multiple tools that cannot be synced.

  1. Many organizations have a specialized credentialing employee who is the only person familiar with his or her processes and tools.

It is common for small or large facilities to delegate the task to one credential manager, who is often a nurse or administrator. When one person is accountable for over 30 different doctor’s credential files along with each of their respective documents, it will take meticulous attention and a long time to perfectly manage the files. The dedicated credential managers develop and master their own methods with spreadsheets and documents. Their processes become ingrained in their workflows along with the shortcuts they may create for streamlining. That single credential manager holds a large responsibility that will come to a halt without his or her presence. The situation creates a high risk factor because the facility’s accreditation is dependent on one person.

  1. Credentialing responsibilities are sometimes shared among several different individuals whose main focuses are not managing credentials.

When the responsibility is divided among multiple employees, the smaller workload for each individual does not always create a streamlined system. Their focus is usually split between managing credentials and other administrative work in the facility that dilutes their attention. When multiple people work off of one spreadsheet, duplication of efforts is highly likely to occur. Such actions are disadvantageous internally and externally because physicians may be approached by different people multiple times for the same information. As a result, friction is created between the doctors and the administrators.

  1. Using traditional methods to collect, organize, and process the documents required for one physician can take at least 15 hours.

Time is a giant administrative cost in credentialing. The amount of time spent increases with each additional document required for the facility’s accreditation. By using mail or the fax machine, hours are lost collecting necessary documents, especially from doctors who are busy and difficult to get a hold of. Essentially, it becomes a hunting game of document gathering between the credential manager and practicing physicians. On top of that, it takes the credential manager more time to process these documents without a credentialing system to help collect and log these documents as part of their credentialing process.

  1. Time-consuming tools and non-dedicated staff focus will increase inaccuracy and inefficiency while managing credentials.

There are potential risks when relying on a non-dedicated staff to perform the task. To offset the higher risk possibility, task-specific tools play an important role in the credential management process. They are specialized with the intent to free the user from having expert knowledge in order to complete the job. Instead of task-specific knowledge, the user is required to have tool-specific knowledge, which is easier and quicker to develop.  Without the automated support of such tools, the administrator or nurse will not be able to traverse the rough waters of credential management alone. Their work is uncushioned, and therefore error-prone. When both time and dedicated focus are lost in the process due to traditional methods and tools, the facility’s accreditation is at risk.  

Silversheet’s intuitive platform allows for credential managers to easily manage physician credential documents for healthcare facilities through their smartphone or computer. Unlike traditional methods, Silversheet invites doctors to play a proactive part in uploading their own documents and connecting with facilities where they practice. The software also automatically sends reminders about expiring or expired documents and run primary source verifications…credential managers all over can wave goodbye to tedious spreadsheets, unreliable calendar reminders, and outdated fax machines!

Are you ready to do the same? Contact us at for more information today.