“Publicly Available” Is Not the Same as “Free”

August 25, 2008 at 8:00 pm 2 comments

The IMDA has issued its recommendations on vendor credentialing in healthcare. There is a lot of interesting content in it that reflects the importance of this dialogue.

While we wish IMDA had responded to our contacts by both voicemail and email to participate in its June panel on credentialing that preceded these conclusions, they did not.   So over the next few weeks we’ll just put a few thoughts out for consideration via the blog.

For today, let’s start with the idea that “public information” such as the OIG List of Excluded Individuals and Entities is, in fact, “free.” True, anyone with internet access can look for HHS/OIG alerts about a company or an individual.

After all it’s online, and internet bandwidth is “free” right? (Insert line item of healthcare system telecommunications data invoice here.)   But for the sake of argument, we’ll ignore that expense because the healthcare provider was paying for internet access anyway, right?   And once they blocked insiders from playing “Halo,” they had all the bandwidth they needed. 

So where does the cost come in?  I’m unaware of any healthcare materials management department that is staffed by volunteers. And if volunteers aren’t doing this, then someone must be paid to take the “free” route of doing this one-by-one using the one-entry-at-a-time search capability.  How much can that cost?  Say it only takes one minute to pull a vendor record from the AP system, enter it into the OIG HHS application, press search, read the output, and record the results. 2300 vendor companies @ 1 per minute equals 38.3 work hours.  Nearly a full work week.  Now go through the list again searching for individuals that come into patient contact.

Oh, and just because a vendor doesn’t appear in the HHS/OIG list doesn’t mean it’s clear from all of the state lists. Just last week, we highlighted the Associated Press’ research that 6 of 10 entries on state lists don’t appear on the HHS/OIG LEIE. So be prepared to do it another 50 or so times. That’s 51 weeks in labor terms.   And then there is the GSA list….

Please, volunteer vendor credentialer, don’t take a vacation.  

Don’t really have a volunteer headcount you can commit to this for nearly a full year?   Perhaps the healthcare system could get a volunteer to program a batch processing application that can download the monthly updates and run that against its in-house vendor files. Either way, it’s going to cost — in staff hours, if not out-of-pocket dollars.

True, most, if not all, of IMDA’s members won’t appear on any of these lists just as I expect most, if not all, of the members won’t set off the alarms at airport security. But the screening needs to occur, nonetheless, and it’s not “free” no matter how you do it.

Entry filed under: HHS OIG LEIE, materials management, vendor credentials.

6 of 10 State Sanctions Missed in OIG LEIE The Cost of Credentialing

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. David Campbell, PhD  |  August 28, 2008 at 10:38 pm

    The writer seems to have the “cart before the horse” with regard to HHS/OIG Alert look ups as part of Vendor Credentialing. Certainly a hospital would not want to conduct business with a company on these lists and supposedly the hospital has done its due diligence, and shouldered its responsibilities in the past, as vendors (one by one) were chosen for a business relationship and added to Accounts Payable.

    For new relationships (which don’t come along in “train loads”), once a new product has past review by hospital committees and the supplier is being vetted for issues such as this, there is merely ONE company to look up, and practically zero expense to do so, since government makes the information availalble.

    To check up on any and all potential companies, in advance, is simply idiotic. Similar to checking the SSN of all potential employees in the US in advance of a recruitment effort to fill a position, instead of using the E-Verify program once you have a candidate in hand.

    Hospitals should not expect business partners to cover their own lack of attention to responsibilities over time, on someone else’s dime.

    David Campbell, PhD
    Chairman of the Board
    Independent Medical Distributors Assn.

    Reply
  • 2. Don Sizemore  |  October 6, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    I did not see any explanation of understanding or solutions in the blog. Surely the writer can see that there is a problem with charging so many reps and companies for so many hospitals. There will be a collaborative effort to work toward a solution and I suggest that Vendormate get on the bandwagon. We are not opposed to your company or the services it charges for, only the repetitive cost that could prevent us from doing business.

    Reply

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