Thursday, February 16, 2012

Patients Receive Better Care With Vendor Credentialing by Nick Messe

Hospitals are not your average, ordinary environment. They are places where the utmost care needs to be taken that people are in the right places and have a reason to be there. Being specialized areas for the care of people with health conditions, they are a far cry from a post office or a train station. For the most part, the people at hospitals are either doctors, nurses, and other health care staff, patients, family members of patients. Then there are other employees of the hospital such as cooks, office staff, and cleaning and maintenance personnel. In addition to this however, there are people coming to the hospital for vending or service purposes. They may be there to fill up soda machines, deliver food to cafeterias, stock medical supplies, or perform a service such as maintenance of vending or health care equipment.

The status of vendors is somewhat different than others present at a hospital because they often come and go quickly, are not known on a day to day basis by hospital staff, and are there for commercial purposes. This all being the case, vendors need a system by which they can be verified by the hospital. If they aren't, anyone could simply enter dressed as a vendor, whether or not they were, and sell whatever they wanted to hospital staff and even patients.

For this reason what is known as vendor credentialing has evolved. In the past, this simply meant that a vendor would have to check in with the purchasing department, sign in, and be given a floor pass to visit the area of the hospital they needed to visit. However, this has proven to be a fairly haphazard and unreliable method. For one thing, the purchasing department is often on a lower floor or some out of the way place, meaning that they have no way to monitor who comes in out, since hospitals have many entrances.

In addition, someone simply walking along with a floor pass may or may not even be checked by staff at a busy hospital. Often virtually everyone in a hospital is on the way somewhere, and they don't have much time to verify whether a certain vendor is supposed to be in the building. This has up until now made it very easy for a vendor to just walk into a hospital without ever talking to the purchasing department or anyone else for that matter. This situation can turn into a hit or miss affair as far as credentialing is concerned.

As a solution to all this, automated vendor credentialing systems have been created. These are systems that keep the names and other information concerning vendor companies and sales and service representatives that visit hospitals in an integrated database. When the vendor rep enters the hospital, he or she checks in with the front desk and the name is run through the software. The system checks not only that the company and representative name is correct, but that the representative's immunizations, liability insurance, training, and so on are all up to date and in compliance with requirements.

If the requirements are met, the vendor is often issued a badge. Any vendor not wearing a badge can be easily recognized by any hospital staff as not being cleared for being in the hospital. This virtually eliminates the risk of not only unauthorized vendors or service people entering, but also ones who have issues such as expired insurance, out of date immunizations, or other problems that violate the compliance codes of the hospital.

Vendor credentialing systems protect all concerned. They protect patients because the latter are not at risk of unscrupulous persons dealing with them or being in the vicinity, or people that could pose a health risk. They protect the vendors as well, making sure they go where they are needed in the hospital, are not exposed to unnecessary health risks or ones for which they are not immunized, and can do their jobs free of concern.

In light of all this, vendor credentialing systems are fast becoming the norm in hospitals. Using these systems, patient care, one of the chief concerns of a hospital, is enhanced, and the safety and welfare of non patients is safeguarded as well. They bring the level of professionalism up and insure a safe and quality health care experience for all concerned.