A couple of years ago, I made a discovery that has saved me countless hours of writing and editing: Signature lines make fast and easy email templates. Draft a template complete with bullets, copy the text and paste it into your email settings as a new signature. For example, rather than drafting a new email to request items missing from a credentials application, I pick my “missing items” signature line. All I have to type is the subject, the recipient’s name and fill in the bullets with the missing items.
Remember, your email recipients are probably almost as busy and time-squeezed as you are. Keeping your email concise and brief not only respects their limited amounts of time and screen real estate; it also gets results. It took me a few months, but once I “got the message,” I was able to offer friendlier greetings in the halls again.
This week’s tip is from Rosemary Dragon, CPMSM, CPCS, Medical Staff Coordinator at St Anthony Hospital/OrthoColorado Hospital in Lakewood, Colo.
Usually this call is conducted by the MSP and a medical staff leader, such as the credentials committee chair. Having a medical staff leader on the line helps because physicians are usually more comfortable and willing to talk with other physicians and it provides a second opinion about what the reference may have insinuated, says Terry Wilson, BS, CPMSM, CPCS, director of the medical staff services department at Flagler Hospital in St. Augustine, Fla., in an interview with Credentialing Resource Center Journal.
“I certainly take notes as to what is being said and then after the conversation, the chairman and I will talk it over and say, ‘This is what I got, did you get that intonation in his voice? Did you get the impression that he wanted to say something but didn’t?’” says Wilson. “We compare notes and we work together on the same page and he will then summarize our opinions and conclusions for the executive committee.”
Even if a physician leader isn’t available, Wilson says she always has another person in the room during calls to reference from a liability standpoint.
“That way I can report that the phone call was made, someone else was in the room, that person validated what I wrote down in my comments, and this is what the two of us agreed was said,” Wilson says. “That avoids the specific ‘he said, she said’ and this way you have a witness.”
Although peer recommendations are only one component of the credentialing file, gleaning all the information you can will add more assurance during the final decision.
Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers. As we get ready for tomorrow’s day of feast and family, there are some people we’d like to publicly appreciate here.
A little over seven months into my tenure as managing editor of the Credentialing Resource Center, I am thankful for:
MSPs who patiently answer my plethora of questions about their day-in, day-out credentialing and privileging duties.
Medical Staff Leader Insider and Credentialing Resource Center Insider ezine readers who offer comments. You keep these weekly e-newsletters focused and aren’t afraid to speak up or suggest article ideas.
The CRC Editorial Advisory Board—it takes an energized, dedicated group to answer the call every couple of months to discuss the state of credentialing, but you always have insights aplenty.
—Mary Stevens, Managing Editor, Credentialing Resource Center
Book authors who are always willing to take on a project, meet our crazy deadlines, and do it with humor.
The Medical Staff Talk listserv community—not only do you help each other out, you give us a glimpse of the day-to-day lives of MSPs and physician leaders.
MSPs (again!) for keeping patients safe. Now that I know what MSPs do, I am glad that there is a checks-and-balances system in place in healthcare facilities.
Physicians and other healthcare providers: Not just for making us better physically, but also mentally. Sometimes a kind word or a listening ear goes just as far as prescribing medication.
—Karen Kondilis, Editor, Books
If you’re thankful for colleagues in your department or hospital, we’d like to hear from you! Drop us a line anytime. And as always, thanks for reading.
No, I won’t ask you at 6 a.m. on Monday morning to spout off what the acronym OPPE stands for. But I will ask you to consider if you are doing your all to make sure these reports are well received by your medical staff. One reason for a negative response from practitioners may be that they simply receive a report card full of bright colors, with no context as to what the report is or why it is important to the hospital and the medical staff.
Without including any context, some practitioners may misunderstand the reason for these reports and fail to see the benefits of a clinical quality improvement program. This may cause unwarranted push back from practitioners under review. Including supporting materials in OPPE reports helps practitioners understand the context for the reports. Supporting materials include:
- Cover letters
- Explanation of report formats
- Glossary of terms and indicators
- Frequently asked questions
- OPPE policy for additional reference
This week’s tip is from The Complete Guide to OPPE: Strategies for Medical Staff Professionals, Physician Leaders, and Quality Directors by Evalynn Buczkowski, RN, BSN, MS; Valerie Handunge, MA; and Wendy R. Crimp, BSN, MBA, CPHQ.
After a soft launch in April 2013, the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates’ electronic credentialing verification offering, the Electronic Portfolio of International Credentials (EPIC), is quietly ramping up. And that’s according to plan, says William C. Kelly, MS, associate vice president for operations at ECFMG, based in Philadelphia. Kelly recently spoke with CRC about EPIC, which enables international medical graduates (IMGs) to provide credentials electronically, and lets medical schools verify credentials.
Q: EPIC has been online for about eight months now. Is it working as planned? What kind of feedback have you gotten?
Kelly: We launched after thorough testing (including SCRUM releases every couple of weeks). In April we finally finished what we through was the last little bit. EPIC launched in April, and it was a soft launch. It took couple of years to write the software and we’re confident in the new system.
We’ve made some tweaks based on initial user feedback. Most of what we had to tweak was in the instructions. We have to be accommodating to our applicants with regard to specifications, such as the proper size of photo, uploading of scanned diplomas and transcriptions, etc. We made changes so we could fix everything at our end if an applicant says “this is the diploma,” but it’s really the translation, or “this is my photo,” but it’s really something else. Those were things we worked on to make EPIC more user-friendly.
Q: Who uses EPIC?
Kelly: So far, it’s primarily been used by physicians who have gone through the ECFMG certification process. Many of them are probably interested in doing residence training or licensing in the United States, but not necessarily all. There are a lot more ECFMG-certified physicians than there are programs available. We have a certificate holders program—if a physician establishes an EPIC account, we add all of their primary-source-verified credentials that they had for the ECFMG certification program.
Our primary marketing efforts will be to international medical regulatory authorities, especially countries that don’t primary-source-verify all physicians who are going to their country.
Most countries have a verification system for physicians that train in that country, and there are a number of nations that verify their own IMGs, but may not require primary source verification on all practitioners. In these countries, EPIC can help because medical regulatory authorities just point the physicians to get their credentials verified through EPIC. There’s a real benefit for the regulatory authorities.
That’s the focus now that we’re confident the system is robust.
Q: What other countries’ medical institutions are using EPIC?
Kelly: ECFMG already does credentialing of IMGs who apply to practice in Canada and Australia. So, for example, everybody who’s trained outside Australia and New Zealand who is going to Australia has to have credentials primary-source-verified through us. We have a separate process for both Canada and Australia—they apply to the Medical Council of Canada or the Australian Medical Council, then the council electronically transmits the credentials they want us to verify.
We’re looking to other medical regulatory authorities and opportunities as well. Some do their own verification and some don’t do it all. Primary source verification is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process. We believe we have the expertise, and the organizational and training structure so if they want to start credentialing, ECFMG can do it for them. If they already do their own credentialing, they can delegate it to us.
This is a long-term process. We have the resources to take our time in developing this.
We talk a lot about medical staff bylaws, rules and regulations, and policies and procedures because these are considered the documents that lead to a smooth-running medical staff. However, it is imperative that your medical staff members (and those granted clinical privileges) know that your organization also has its own set of policies and procedures and rules and regulations and that they must comply with as well. Examples include: dress code, ID badges, clinical practice, and infection control.
Set this expectation upfront, even before Day 1 at your organization, by placing an attestation on your medical staff application. The attestation should make it clear that medical staff members or those granted clinical privileges must comply with all organizational and medical staff policies and procedures.
This week’s tip is from Legal Strategies for MSPs & Physician Leaders: Prevent Negligent Credentialing and Protect Peer Review by Anne Roberts, CPMSM, CPCS.
Today’s Monday memo includes a question and answer from our recent webcast “Overcoming Competency Assessment Challenges: All About Advanced Practice Professionals.” If the question sounds familiar, the answer might offer some clarity.
Q: Are the terms “collaborating physician,” “sponsoring physician,” and “supervising physician” interchangeable when it comes to requirements for advanced practice professionals?
A: That depends on your state law and what it defines as a collaborative or supervising situation as well as your own internal definition. Physician assistants are almost always supervised (Alaska allows for a collaborative plan), but nurse practitioners—depending on state statutes and individual hospital requirements—can either be supervised or can practice under a more collaborative arrangement or can practice independently.
I don’t see those terms as interchangeable, although organizations will frequently use them in the same context. Basically, practitioners can’t go hang out a shingle on their own or practice in a hospital setting if the hospital requires some type of a physician sponsor, collaboration, or supervision. Some states require a collaborative agreement, but hospitals might have stricter requirements and require something tighter such as supervision. If the hospital has stricter requirements for advanced practice professionals, “supervising” and “collaborating” may not be interchangeable in that setting.
On the other hand, a “sponsoring physician” could be either the supervising or collaborative physician. It depends on what your state and your organization requires.
— Sally Pelletier, CPMSM, CPSC, Advisory Consultant and the Chief Credentialing Officer, the Greeley Company, Danvers, Mass.
Click here for more information about this webcast or the others in this three-part series.
And as always, thanks for reading!
Mary Stevens, Managing Editor, Credentialing Resource Center
HCPro’s newest publication in the medical staff market hit shelves last month. The Medical Executive Committee Manual, aims to give readers an explanation of all the duties physician leaders take on when they join their medical executive committee. HCPro sat down with one of the book’s authors, William F. Mills, MD, MMM, CPE, FACPE, FAAFP, to ask about his experience as a first time author and what he hopes his book (co-authored with Mary J. Hoppa, MD, MBA) will provide to medical staff members and their support teams.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Karen did. OK a better answer. I have been interested in medical staff leadership development for the last 15 or so years. I realized when I became a medical staff leader that most “leaders” were completely unprepared for leadership. The assumption is that a good clinician will make a good leader. That’s sort of like saying a good physicist will make a good philosopher because both are smart and the words begin with the letter “p.” My thinking and inspiration for writing this book was to provide physician leaders, and potential leaders, with a quick reference, easy read that would teach them some of the leadership basics in the hospital setting. The book is about the roles of the Medical Executive Committee where effective medical staff leadership must occur to create and improve a culture of quality and safety for our patients.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My style is more of a conversational style mixed with “doctor-speak.” I often tell non-clinical senior executives “Stop! I speak doctor.” By that I do not mean that I am just fluent with the medical jargon, but that I understand how physicians, and other clinicians, think and thus I can interpret or present the message in a way that is easily understood by clinicians. I also try to inject some humor as clinicians have unfortunately been subjected to reading dry textbooks and academic articles and journals. I even try to throw in some history, philosophy, poetry, and contemporary cultural references to break up the heavy content. Additionally, I try to provide bulleted lists and examples that can be easily found when the reader needs to refer back to a particular section.
What is the message you want readers to grasp?
My main message is one of improving the culture of quality and patient safety which will improve the clinical outcomes for the patients we serve. To do this, the system must change. Clinicians typically are not taught much about this and my goal is to rectify that.
What books have influenced your life most?
That’s not a fair question. I learned years ago that if I can take one thing from a book and use that to make a change in my life, then that is a great book for me. The book that has most influenced my life is the Bible. After that my answer would be it depends upon what part of my life you are talking about. My list of great books include: Walden by Thoreau, The Tipping Point by Gladwell, Power and Influence by Dwyer, Dig Your Well Before You Are Thirsty by Mackay.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
That’s a question that I have never really thought about. I have not really patterned by style after a particular author, especially since my writing has been mostly confined to the medical field in the quality/patient safety arena. If forced, I would say Malcolm Gladwell because he takes ordinary experiences and views them with an eye toward change and improvement.
What book are you reading now?
Currently I am reading The Leadership Challenge by Kouzes and Posner. When I attend a lecture, read a book or article, or research a topic, I will often read a book that is referenced by the speaker/writer. I usually assume that there was something special about that book, at least for that individual. It might be a “classic” or a novel idea or approach, so I’m interested in broadening my perspective.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I do not typically read books just because I like the author. I read to enhance my understanding, broaden my perspective, or challenge my thinking. I may not know if it is an author’s first book or one of many when I read it.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
If there were such an award in college, I may well have won the title “most likely to never write a book.” Reading and writing were academic chores, not something I considered very useful in my early life. My interest really developed when I entered full-time administrative medicine. It was then that I realized the need for information to be provided to busy clinicians in a way that would improve the culture of quality and safety. I’m a physician so that colors my worldview. My professional life has been, and still is, dedicated to taking care of patients. I’ve discovered that writing not only clarifies my thinking, it provides me an avenue to share what I have learned with others. As I told my kids when they were growing up: Learn from my mistakes, life is too short to make them all yourself.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The most challenging part was limiting the material to the most important aspects of the roles and functions of the Medical Executive Committee. Finding examples that illustrate more than one teaching point to limit the length of the book was problematic at times.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
As writing is not my “day job,” finding the time to write was often very difficult. But the hardest part was limiting the material to the most essential elements. Each chapter could easily be a book unto itself.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that maintaining a flow was more difficult than I expected. When dealing with diverse topics it is quite challenging to make the book flow, yet be able to be read out of sequence. It takes a lot of thought when writing this type of book to sequence it appropriately.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Develop and stick to your timeline. I have heard, and now believe, a book is never done. You just have to release it to your editor. With every reading I wanted to change something. Perfection is hard to obtain so don’t let it get in the way of good enough.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
This book is about the basics required to be a part of an effective and efficient Medical Executive Committee. Keep in mind as you are reading it that there are many rules, regulations and requirements that seem to bog you down. Remember that your focus is on creating and improving a culture of safety and quality as we care for patients. Never lose sight of the fact that we are doing all of this for our patients.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing the book to life?
It was challenging to determine when to stop researching a particular aspect of the book. There have been volumes written on many of the subjects, so sorting out what had to be in the book versus what would be nice to keep was often difficult. It seemed that so often I was only scratching the surface of the material. It was also difficult to separate the roles and responsibilities of the MEC from the roles and responsibilities of individual leaders. It was very easy to get off-task and share insights into leadership that would be beneficial, but alas this wasn’t the main thrust of this book. Maybe that is the next one.
For more information on Mill’s new book The Medical Executive Committee Manual, visit www.hcmarketplace.com
Did you know that in 1992, President George Bush issued a proclamation designating the first week of November as “National Medical Staff Services Awareness Week?” He signed the Congressional resolution “to acknowledge and thank medical services professionals (MSP) for playing “an important role in our nation’s healthcare system.”
While there is no denying that MSPs play an important role in our nation’s healthcare system, many folks outside of medical staff services do not understand what that role is. I think author Nancy Lain, CPMSM, CPCS, sums up the point well in the introduction of her book, Ready, Set Credential!:
“When my daughter was small, she would watch me go to work each morning. She knew I worked in a hospital and understood what a hospital was.
“‘Are you a nurse?’ she would ask.
“ ‘No,’ I replied. ‘I work in the medical staff office.’
“Judging by her puzzled expression, I might as well have replied in a foreign language. Today, I still see that expression all the time when I tell people what I do.”
Sound familiar? It’s not always easy or glamorous to be the person behind the scene making sure the wheels function properly. But remember, without those wheels rolling in the same direction, we wouldn’t be able to move ahead. And once us folks outside of medical staff services understand what you do, we appreciate it (especially the next time we step into a hospital or physician’s office).
My tip to you this week is simple: take pride in your work, and share that pride with others by telling them what you do, and please, keep doing what you do.
Don’t forget that HCPro is honoring MSPs this week with a 20% discount on all of our medical staff and credentialing products. To receive the discount, use code MSPWeek2013 when checking out online or with one of our customer service representatives. Visit www.hcmarketplace.com for a list of products.
The 21st annual National Medical Staff Services Awareness Week is just ahead, from November 3-9. In honor of all that MSPs do, HCPro is offering you and your colleagues a 20% discount on all of our medical staff and credentialing products from November 4 to 8. Visit HCMarketplace and enter MSPWeek2013 during checkout to receive your discount.
Will your organization be doing anything to mark National Medical Staff Services Awareness week? Let me know. And as always, thanks for reading!
Mary Stevens, Managing Editor, Credentialing Resource Center