Pangaea Express: Vendor Credentialing and COVID-19
While companies are developing their own post-pandemic plans to “qualify” their staff for re-entry to hospitals, physician clinics, pharmacies and other healthcare centres, similar discussions are no doubt occurring within these health care institutions about how to manage expectations or criteria before sales representatives are allowed to re-enter their facilities.
Vendor credentialing is not new. It has applied to medical supply companies, where sales representatives may be attending restricted areas of healthcare facilities and must ensure they have the appropriate immunizations and training to safeguard the health and safety of patients, residents and staff of the hospital.
In 2014 Medtech Canada (formerly MEDEC) endorsed the Healthcare Supply Chain Network (HSCN), a Canadian industry association formed in 2012, and its Canadian National Standard for Vendor Credentialing. This Standard brought a consistent approach throughout the country that was well regarded by industry and healthcare providers such that it was either endorsed or implemented by many institutions. The Canadian system is very different from the U.S. where billions of dollars are involved in a multitude of companies selling their own vendor credentialing solutions to hospitals, with no consistency from one to the next.
Hospitals may also have their own vendor approval process. University Health Network in Toronto, for instance, requires the vendor complete an extensive 8-step application process, including a fee-for-access, to be approved by the Division Head of the department for which access is being sought.
In the situation now, with respect to the timing of re-entry of non-essential healthcare workers, it is expected that various provincial medical associations will follow the recommendations of their respective provincial government’s phased re-entry policies.
It will be critical for individual companies to be aware of these external policies, the extent they may evolve in this pandemic, and to work proactively with industry associations and external stakeholders to find the right balance of criteria for re-entry into clinics and hospitals to ensure a safe and productive vendor/customer interaction for the benefit of Canadian patients.