With the onset of COVID-19, it might feel like much of what you once knew about licensing and credentialing has shifted. For the sake of simplifying your process and providing the best possible candidate experience, you’ll want to stay informed about these updates and how they’ll impact the way you and your prospects navigate the specifics.
If you’ve recruited internationally before, you know the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) requires verification of an applicant’s medical education credentials, including the final medical school diploma with the issuing medical school.
However, due to complications and delays caused by the pandemic, ECFMG is issuing Interim Certificates to international medical graduates who have matched to U.S. residency positions. These are available to help them begin their programs on time, even if their medical schools are unable to provide final medical education credentials.
An increased demand for providers, combined with limited supply during surges of COVID patients, has required many states to modify laws about where providers can practice.
To help get as many qualified physicians on the ground as possible, requirements for obtaining and renewing licensure have been relaxed so providers can work across state lines. This includes expedited licenses for retired and inactive physicians, modifying continuing medical education (CME) requirements as well as waiving certain telehealth restrictions.
Changes vary by state, so you’ll want to check which of the following apply to yours:
- States modifying licensure requirements/renewals
- States modifying CME requirements
- States expediting licenses for retired and inactive providers
- States waiving in-state licensure requirements for telehealth
The Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) has adjusted requirements for Medicare Telehealth services, allowing more patients to receive care and more providers to see patients regardless of their location.
According to CMS, "under the public health emergency, all beneficiaries across the country can receive Medicare telehealth and other communications technology-based services wherever they are located." Clinicians can provide these services to new or established patients, where it was previously limited to existing patients.
In the heightened demand for telehealth services, CMS has also made the following changes for Medicare Telehealth requirements:
- Waived restrictions on the type of practitioners that can bill for their services when providing Medicare telehealth services from a different site.
- This now includes all health care professionals who are eligible to bill Medicare for their professional services, allowing a wider range of practitioners (such as physical therapists, occupational therapists, and speech and language pathologists) to utilize telehealth Medicare services.
- Expanded list of telehealth services available under Medicare, such as: emergency department visits, initial nursing facility visits, critical care services, therapy services and more.
- This also broadens the range of clinicians, including physicians, that can now provide telehealth services.
- Approved the use of audio-only technology for telephone evaluation and management services, and behavioral health counseling and educational services. You can see the list of services eligible for audio-only technology
- Modified limitations allowing clinicians to provide remote patient monitoring services to new and established patients.
- Removed frequency limitations on Medicare telehealth services.
When it comes to certification, updated requirements will also depend on the physician’s specialty. Each board of physicians has adopted different solutions to respond to the pandemic’s implications, which is why this part of the process will look different for each specialty you’re recruiting.
For example, the American Board of Emergency Physicians has extended its grace period to six months for physicians whose certificates expire in 2020. Others, like the American Board of Internal Medicine, have offered additional testing dates for physicians scheduled to take a subspecialty exam.
These changes might also consist of loosening minimum training requirements needed to receive credentials, relaxed deadlines for residency graduates pursuing initial certification, postponed or cancelled exams, and more. Make sure you confirm what these requirements or opportunities will look like for each candidate you’re aiming to hire.
The process’s pace
The timing of the licensing and credentialing process is known for being somewhat lengthy. On average, licensing usually takes anywhere from three to five months to obtain, or even longer for some states. With many organizations attempting to expedite the process - combined with more flexible requirements to help this happen - this timeframe could look a lot shorter.
Regardless, the specific prospect you’re working with will give you a better idea of how long the process will take. The more experienced the physician, the more history and experience there will be to verify. Similarly, international candidates and foreign medical graduates may have to take extra steps to receive interim certificates or their visas.
While keeping note of these details is important, you’ll also want to make sure you’re not stalling the process with delays on your end.
Make a point to consistently check your email to be in quick communication with recruits going through the licensing and credentialing part of the process. You’ll also want to keep an eye on spam and junk folders to ensure there aren’t any important messages slipping through the cracks.
Continue checking your state’s updated requirements as well as the appropriate board for the specialties you’re recruiting. It always helps to be on top of critical deadlines and keep your prospects informed about the process and any steps they may still need to complete. Navigating the details of licensing and credentialing can already be confusing, so staying informed and serving as a resource will be beneficial to both you and your candidates.
We’re here to help! Contact ProTeam@PracticeLink.com for more recruiter resources and tips for the licensing and credentialing process.