Vendor credentialing: Look who’s talking

CHICAGO–There’s still talk about a universal vendor-credentialing “passport,” which would give vendor sales reps access to any hospital anywhere in the country. But that talk is mostly among vendors themselves, not their hospital customers. And truth be told, many vendors and suppliers have given up hope that a universal passport will ever be created. That said, they haven’t given up hope that the industry might move closer to a passport than it is today. That was one key takeaway from the recent Vendor Credentialing Summit, held in Chicago.

The Summit was an attempt to gather together all players – vendors, vendor credentialing companies and hospital supply chain executives – to see if they could improve the current vendor credentialing process. As it turned out, just one IDN – Intermountain Healthcare – showed up. True, representatives from Premier, MedAssets, University HealthSystem Consortium, the Federation of American Hospitals and the Association of periOperative Registered Nurses (AORN) were on hand. But the overwhelming majority of the audience were manufacturers, along with a few distributors (e.g., Cardinal Health, Medline, Claflin Co.) and vendor credentialing companies (VCS, IntelliCentrics and VeriREP, which created the Summit).

The cost of vendor credentialing

Though not directly addressed, the issue of cost loomed large. From small specialty distributors to large, national manufacturers and distributors, it seemed clear that vendor credentialing costs the healthcare system money – lots of it. And it’s not just the time sales reps and their managers spend responding to the many e-mails and alerts they receive every week. There’s also the infrastructure that suppliers have created to try to stay on top of this thing. Among the manufacturers attending the Summit were individuals with titles such as “credentialing manager,” “vendor credentialing liaison,” “vendor credentialing coordinator” and “director of HCIR credentialing.”

Nationwide standardization? Won’t happen, as some attendees pointed out. The primary reason is, few hospitals or IDNs are working toward it. And there are other issues. For example, some states won’t allow companies to release information about their employees’ arrest records; others will. And some reps might not be able to comply with hospitals’ requests for proof of vaccination, perhaps for health or even religious reasons. Dealing with exceptions such as these can be expensive and time-consuming for providers and suppliers.

To read about what’s next with vendor credentialing, click here

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