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How to Verify Staff Credentials at Your Healthcare Practice: A Checklist

Managing a healthcare practice is a big job. You are responsible not only for your actions as a provider but also for those of your staff. Rigorous hiring methods that properly vet each hire’s education and experience are critical. How can you verify healthcare staff credentials? Read on to find out.
The Importance of Checking Healthcare Credentials

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a physical therapist or counseling practice. If you have a healthcare practice of any sort, it’s advisable to thoroughly screen your staff members before bringing them into your team.

Unfortunately, health care fraud exists. There have even been cases of people masquerading as doctors with fraudulent credentials. While the odds that you’ll encounter such an egregious case are small, it’s nonetheless essential to check employees’ credentials.

By taking this step, you are acting responsibly and helping to:
  • Protect your patients: You want to ensure your patients get the best care possible. If a healthcare practitioner claims they have specific credentials and capabilities, you want to make sure they are genuinely as competent as they suggest.
  • Support your team: A well-functioning healthcare practice relies on every team member doing their part. Existing employees will suffer the consequences if you bring someone on board who cannot perform as advertised.
  • Safeguard your business: In the worst-case scenario, failure to verify healthcare staff credentials can result in medical missteps and potential patient harm. This opens up your practice to the possibility of lawsuits.
Further, if you don’t do your due diligence and a healthcare practitioner on your team has acted fraudulently, you may encounter problems down the line. For example, health insurance companies verify a doctor’s credentials before including them as an in-network provider.


7-Step Checklist: How to Verify Healthcare Staff Credentials

While it will take time, effort, and (in some cases) money, checking applicant credentials is essential when you’re expanding your healthcare practice’s team.

The below steps can help you verify healthcare practitioner credentials.

1. Check Educational Credentials First-Hand
You can check education credentials directly with the university or college. They will usually confirm necessary details like an individuals’ dates of attendance, graduation date, and degrees awarded.

If you aren’t familiar with the educational institution, research it online to make sure it’s accredited. The U.S. Department of Education has a database of accredited institutions. Further, check whether the agency accrediting an institution is legitimate via the Council for Higher Education Accreditation.

2. Verify Licensure With Relevant State Boards
Healthcare practitioners usually need to be licensed to practice in a specific state. Check with your state’s board directly to ensure that any potential employee is licensed – and in good standing. Even if the individual’s license is intact, you want to know about disciplinary board actions.

The relevant board will depend on the field. For example, you can find lists of dental licensure bodies state by state via the American Dental Association.

3. Check for Disciplinary Actions in All Former Employment Locations
If the applicant is coming from out of state, it’s also worth checking their licensure record in former residences. Medical boards may issue license restrictions, reprimands, monetary fines, or even suspensions or probation.

If a potential employee has such instances in their history, it’s worth knowing about. It doesn’t necessarily rule them out as an applicant. It’s simple due diligence.

4. Run a General Background Check
In some instances, medical professionals are required to self-report criminal issues to the relevant licensing board. For example, physicians must self-report state felony convictions within 30 days. However, not all types of charges need to be reported.

A background check allows for more comprehensive vetting. This is standard best practice in modern human resources.

5. Hire an External Service
If you don’t have time to handle the above steps, there are services available to help. ProviderTrust offers primary source verification for healthcare practitioners, for example. They can search and monitor 3,000-plus federal and state databases, checking for red flags like disciplinary actions.

6. Talk to References
Presumably, a person’s educational credentials are a testament to their abilities as a medical provider. However, can they effectively apply those classroom skills in the real world? That’s what references can tell you.

Talking to an applicant’s former employees can give you a better sense of their strengths and weaknesses. It’s also a means of asking about soft skills, like communication abilities and teamwork.

7. Meet Face-to-Face
Even if all the paperwork checks out, you should still take the time to meet potential employees face-to-face.
This is a valuable opportunity to see if the individual’s attitude and personality are a good fit for your team.

Sometimes an in-person interview can reveal red flags – e.g., an off-color “joke” or remark – that can’t be seen on paper.


A Note on Non-Medical Staff

Although the above guide focuses specifically on how to verify healthcare staff credentials, you should vet all of your staff before hiring them.

Resume fraud is, unfortunately, an issue across a diversity of industries and job roles. It’s also appeared at all levels of seniority. Yahoo saw one of the most notorious examples when its CEO stepped down following revelations that much of his CV had been faked. More recently, in Singapore, a manager was fined $1,600 and jailed for nearly three years for committing resume fraud.

Individuals in support roles in your healthcare practice may not treat patients medically. However, they still have access to sensitive patient data. They are privy to everything from medical files to payment details, home addresses, contact information, and more.

From admin staff to accountants, check the credentials of the people you employ. Ask for copies of educational degrees, certificates, and licenses, as applicable. Such vigilance is simply smart business management and can bring you valuable peace of mind.


Help Protect Your Healthcare Practice with HPSO

Even an employee with impeccable healthcare provider credentials and a top-quality track record can’t deliver 100% perfect patient outcomes every time. If issues arise – for example, a patient is dissatisfied with the result of a procedure and uses this as grounds for legal action – it’s good to be prepared.

Healthcare Providers Service Organization (HPSO) offers insurance for healthcare practices. Make sure your business is protected.

Contact us for a quote.
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