Come April 1, in a coordinated effort by the Massachusetts Medical Society, the Massachusetts Hospital Association and seven healthcare plans, nearly 21,000 active physicians in the state will be able to either submit or update their credentialing information with two new, widely accepted forms.
The next goal-the capability to update credentialing information online-is about six months to a year away, according to Thomas Sullivan, M.D., president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. But for now, Sullivan said he's happy with the current agreement, which will use forms in a printable format accessible via the Web. For paperwork-strapped physicians, Sullivan said the agreement was "a huge breakthrough."
Negotiators working out the arrangement were benefited by the relatively low market penetration within the state of national healthcare payers, which want their own national credentialing procedure, Sullivan said.
The participating payers that will honor the new forms are Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Fallon Community Health Plan, Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, Health New England, Neighborhood Health Plan, Network Health and Tufts Health Plan.
Also starting April 1, the plans pledge to finish the credentialing process on 95% of complete initial applications within 30 days of receipt.
Sullivan predicted the state hospital association would have little trouble lobbying its 100 or so hospital members to accept the new forms-one longer form for initial credentialing and a shorter form for renewals.
In Massachusetts, he said, many physicians are employed by hospitals, so the burden of keeping their physicians' credentials up to date with maybe a dozen different health plans falls to hospital staffers.
"This is a huge, huge savings for them," Sullivan said.
Sullivan said the forms are already available on the hospital association's Web site, mhalink.org.
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