If you're wondering what a medical staff professional (MSP) does, Sally Pelletier, CPMSM, CPCS, president of Best Practices Consulting Group in Intervale, NH, sums it up pretty well. "I've likened the role of the MSP to that of an air traffic controller—a key individual who makes things happen behind the scenes according to established guidelines and protocols to ensure that the highest safety standards are met."
Not only are MSPs responsible for credentialing and privileging medical staff members, they also manage and take minutes at meetings, stay up-to-date on accreditation standards and state and federal regulations, maintain medical staff rosters and financial accounts, and play the roles of teacher, counselor, and mediator. They are also keepers of the medical staff bylaws, rules, regulations, and policies.
Although in some hospitals, executives may only know MSPs in passing, MSPs are also the wheel inside the clock that makes it tick. Next week, November 1-7 is National Medical Staff Services Awareness Week to honor MSPs.
Awareness week first became nationally recognized in 1992 when President George Bush signed a congressional joint resolution at the urging of The National Association Medical Staff Services (NAMSS).
Medical staff services professionals are sometimes viewed by the C-suite as an expense on the income statement, says William K. Cors, MD, MMM, FACP, CMSL, vice president of medical staff services at The Greeley Company, a division of HCPro, Inc. in Marblehead, MA.
However, when MSPs do their job well, they can save the organization countless dollars and hours. These cost and time savings come from effective credentialing, privileging, and physician performance measurement processes that ensure problem physicians never reach the stage of due process or fair hearing. Fair hearings can cost the organization hundreds of thousands of dollars and countless physician and staff hours, Cors explains.
"The MSPs lead quietly, defuse conflicts early, and ensure best practices are followed so that the medical staff can be the best that it can be. Without them, this area would be chaos," says Cors.