Go beyond basic credentialing
In addition to establishing a written agreement between facilities and making sure thorough credentialing processes are in place, hospitals should ensure the competency of the telemedicine providers they partner with by finding out as much as possible about them, including their rapport with staff and other physicians at the distant site, professional reputation, and independent references.
“It is important for the originating site to be assured of clinical competence of each distant site provider,” says Bruce D. Armon, Esq., partner at Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr LLP in Philadelphia. “If this is a new professional relationship or not much is known about the distant site provider, the originating site may believe it is prudent to perform its own independent research and/or verification of the distant site provider, including a social media review.” The originating site hospital should do whatever it takes to make sure it is 100% comfortable with the telemedicine provider.
Armon suggests that a hospital could create an addendum to its credentialing policy that is specific to evaluating telemedicine providers—this addendum would delineate what information the hospital has decided to check above and beyond the basic requirements of The Joint Commission and other accrediting bodies.
“This would spell out how they may independently do their own robust background check of a provider,” he explains. “But remember that a telemedicine provider must go through the same process as any other provider seeking privileges, in terms of what the medical staff rules allow and don’t allow, and what rights and responsibilities a person would have.”