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Telehealth credentialing application process requires primary source documentation of all licensure, education, training, current and previous hospital staff privileges, malpractice covering insurance for the last five years, claims history for ten years, work history since finishing training, and any sanction with Medicare and Medicaid. Some hospitals also require TB testing, fingerprinting, or reference letters. 

Credentialing and privileging are important processes for ensuring high-quality patient care. In the case of telehealth, however, providers must complete this process for each of their outreach sites. A provider with 50 telemedicine sites could be credentialed and privileged 50 times, although the information provided to each facility is almost the same. To add to the pain of this duplication, primary-source documentation is required and most facilities have their unique credentialing form that requests slightly different information.  

In 2004, the Joint Commission began allowing acceptance of credentialing and privileging decisions by another Joint Commission-Accredited facility as an efficient means of vetting and privileging telehealth practitioners. However, since then, CMS has taken a position requiring that all medicare practitioners must undergo full credentialing and privileging at each originating site.  

The result is that effective July 15, 2010, Joint Commission-Accredited hospitals must credential and privilege licensed independent practitioners (lip) “who are responsible for the patient’s care, treatment or services,” which mirrors the CMS requirement. The process for credentialing and privileging providers that fall into the telehealth category must meet all of the standards required for credentialing and privileging any other lips on the medical staff.  

The current Joint Commission process has been in place since 2004, and there have not been any cases identified where patient safety was jeopardized by the use of remote credentialing and privileging. Besides, the CMS validation survey has never identified remote credentialing and privileging as an issue.xxiv