An industrywide consortium took a big step this winter in its quest to bring uniformity to the vendor credentialing process.
In January, the Consortium for Universal Healthcare Credentialing (C4UHC) successfully completed the process of certification to develop ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards for healthcare supplier credentialing through NEMA, an ANSI-standards-setting body.
ANSI is the U.S. leader for standards development, says Dennis Orthman, consulting director for C4UHC. “Standards are only certified by ANSI if very specific criteria and processes are followed in their creation,” he says.
“As required by ANSI, the Consortium’s standards development process involved all stakeholder groups in an open and transparent discussion. Formal votes were taken, and consensus was reached. In the case of ANSI/NEMA SC1 2019 Standards for Supplier Credentialing in Healthcare, over 45 different stakeholder entities were involved, including healthcare providers, suppliers, distributors, and others.
“The Consortium could not be happier with what has been accomplished, and the process used to get there.”
NEMA is the association of electrical equipment and medical imaging manufacturers, and is one of numerous standard-setting bodies that are part of ANSI. Its connection to vendor credentialing is a natural one.
“Many healthcare providers and suppliers already conform to ANSI/NEMA standards, so there should be some familiarity for credentialing,’ says Orthman. “Virtually every piece of medical equipment – and the hospital electrical systems they are plugged in to – used in the delivery of care of the patient conforms to ANSI/NEMA standards. This enhances the ease of use and promotes safety, among other things. If every piece of equipment had a different plug and did not have to meet fire and electrical safety minimums, think what that would mean to everyone?
“We would like supplier credentialing to look more like standardized and interoperable electrical components versus [its current state].”
Reps’ personal information protected
Adopting the ANSI standards will minimize the exposure of personal and sensitive information from suppliers’ employees, according to the Consortium.
The adoption of ANSI standards require suppliers to work with their providers of background checks and other information to ensure that they also meet the ANSI/NEMA SC1 2019 standard, explains Orthman. Suppliers then can communicate that their employee has met the requirement to the ANSI/NEMA SC1 standard with no need to send source documentation, personal information, or sensitive health information, minimizing the exposure of personal information.
“Adherence to the standard protects not only the individuals, but any entity that comes in contact with the information, thus reducing the risk of exposure or the inappropriate use of the information,” he says. “As with other standards, audits will be conducted to ensure that the organization is conforming to the standard, or they will no longer be allowed to state that they are compliant to ANSI standards.
“The next steps are to include additional stakeholders in the continuum of supplier credentialing to show the true value of standardized and interoperable credentialing. Ultimately this will benefit us all, either in our professional roles, or as patients.”
The Consortium for Universal Healthcare Credentialing is the successor organization to the Coalition for Best Practices in Healthcare Industry Representatives, which, beginning in 2012, has worked to develop best practices for vendor credentialing. For more information, go to www.c4uhc.org