Healthcare facilities have to work within a budget and balance the books at the end of each year. In order to do that, administrators have to make some tough choices about what programs to keep, what programs to cut, what programs to shrink and what programs to grow. So is a comprehensive credentialing program worth the cost? To answer that question, let’s walk through the cost of credentialing and determine its value to a hospital.
Whole Organization Approach to CredentialingCredentialing is the process of obtaining, verifying and assessing the qualifications of healthcare personnel, including every person who has the potential for contact with patients. To determine the real cost of credentialing, all the hospital’s investment in form of people, technology and credential fulfillment has to be considered.
The cost varies from facility to facility and is mostly affected by the size, scope of operations, number of employees and number of departments.
Staffing Costs The cost of credentialing cuts across multiple departments in the facility. Generally, a hospital will have a minimum of eight different departments involved including:

Compliance Office – Ensures all hospital technology systems, processes and staff are credentialed and maintained for HIPAA
Medical Staffing Services – Credentials and privileges the licensed professional medical staff, including physicians and nurses
Human Resources – Verifies criminal background checks, drug screening tests and educational credentials
Infection Control – Ensures health workers are immunized against infectious diseases

Taking into consideration the percentage of time each department spends on credentialing, the staff-related cost of the credentialing process is estimated to be $6,020 annually per staffed bed for an average-size hospital with 161 beds.
Technology and Credential Fulfillment Costs Each staffing group relies, at least in part, on technology to complete their role in the credentialing process. Technology takes the form of tracking, management and information gathering systems including learning management systems, human resource information systems, visitor management systems, volunteer management systems and vendor management systems.
Further, hospitals must carry out a range of checks and tests for new and existing staff members in order to comply with credentialing standards. Facilities often incur the cost for background checks, drug tests and work records authentications. Many will also cover the cost of continuing education and annual employee immunizations.
These non-staffing-related costs increase the cost of credentialing by an estimated $680 per year per hospital bed. When these costs are added to the staffing credentialing costs, hospitals pay about $6,700 per bed every year —totaling over $1 million per year.
Is it Worth It? On average, one in every 10 patients is affected by adverse events in acute hospitals every year. The events can result in prolonged hospital stay, disability and even death. However, the majority of such instances can be prevented with a culture of vigilance, clinical training and proper environmental control.
With an annual cost of just under $7,000 per bed, a comprehensive credentialing system is a significant investment for any hospital. However, recent analysis has revealed that the cost of not credentialing is potentially even more expensive and far reaching. It can be manifested in different ways including:

Opportunity cost and reputation impact
Indirect liability and productivity costs
Direct costs associated with theft in the facility

It has been estimated that not having appropriate credentialing processes in place can cost five times more than the process itself. Given the estimated cost of $7,000 for credentialing, this would mean a staggering $35,000 per staffed bed annually for not credentialing! With a comprehensive credentialing program you can save lives, boast your reputation and increase your revenue. We think it’s worth it.
To learn more about the hidden costs of not credentialing, download our white paper, Can Your Hospital Afford Not to Implement a Comprehensive Credentialing Program?

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