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Why Vendor Credentialing is a Strategic Issue

Philip Betbeze, for HealthLeaders Media, June 28, 2013

Seven years ago, some LDS nurses had the right idea, Walsh says, before senior leadership or physicians were even aware there was a potential big problem with patient safety and liability. Even in 2006, vendor credentialing was a known issue, but with so many competing priorities, and the very good likelihood that physicians would resent the red tape their suppliers would have to go through to access them, many hospitals dragged their feet on implementing a comprehensive, less labor-intensive process for vendor access.  

But that's when Intermountain, intrigued by the patchwork system developed at LDS, decided to try to automate the process and roll it out to its other facilities. Jo Ann Autenreib, who became the supplier access program manager, was put in charge of making the transition.  

"She didn't have much more direction than that," says Walsh. Autenreib pulled together the heads of the supply chain, compliance, and the CMO, who handles physician relationships, to buy in. Product and vendor compliance got the supply chain folks hooked. And compliance was interested in identifying people with background problems and the idea that unfettered access was a patient safety issue resonated with physicians.  

Fast-forward to 2013, and Intermountain has a vendor access program in all its facilities using Reptrax, a program from Dallas-based Intellicentrics. Reptrax tracks suppliers' whereabouts through an ID badge and ensures that representatives of vendors and suppliers are who they say they are, have the proper immunizations, background checks and drug tests, and that they have the appropriate training and policy instruction.  

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