Taking the Pain Out of Clinician Licensing

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Physician-founded startup MOCINGBIRD fights burnout and ultimately improves patient care.

Challenge

By and large, healthcare workers get into medicine to take care of patients, not the paperwork. They go to school and train and train for years to heal people and save lives — not to spend nights and weekends hunched over a computer stressing over Excel spreadsheets. Yet that is the reality for those hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers who have to manage their licensing and certifications.


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The process, called Maintenance of Certification (MOC) is like handling vehicle registration at the DMV, but more complicated. Every state license has different requirements, as does every medical specialty. These requirements change from year to year and require paper forms to be tracked, filled out, mailed in, even faxed, in order for the clinician to stay up to date. The penalty for missing one of these administrative hoops is steep — one could lose their ability to work and earn a living.

While the MOC process is usually put on the clinician’s back, hospitals have their own challenges. With licensing being handled in a scattershot way, spread across hundreds of spreadsheets and filing cabinets, it’s incredibly difficult for an administrator to know at any given time their facility’s compliance level.

How many doctors or nurses are in need of additional education? How many are critically close to needing full recertification? The answer is so opaque and time-consuming to find that it often gets ignored, putting the facility at risk.


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Thankfully, MOCINGBIRD is changing the story, for clinicians and hospitals alike.

Origin

MOCINGBIRD was the brain child of two practicing physicians, New York–based cardiologist George Fernaine and Ian Madom, an orthopedic spine surgeon from Rhode Island. After meeting at Yale, they decided to take on what they saw as one of the greatest pain points in medicine – arcane maintenance of certification practices. In 2017, they worked with a technology partner to create a new way of tracking and reporting on medical licenses, bringing the antiquated process into the modern age.

Once they’d built an initial MVP (minimum viable product), the co-founders were ready to hire a team, allowing them to continue in full time medical practice. In 2019, Brad Artery was recruited as CEO to build the team that would bring this novel platform to the world in a scalable way.


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While COVID-19 slowed the launch as some hospitals paused on non-Covid tech purchases, the pandemic also dramatically increased the industry’s appetite to have streamlined, tech-enabled services penetrate every aspect of the healthcare experience. That shift has set up 2021 to be a break-out year for MOCINGBIRD, Artery said.

Under the Hood

For any clinician who has spent hours and days digging around in state licensing requirements and medical board checklists, the MOCINGBIRD interface will feel like a bit of magic. Regardless of your state or specialty, the dashboard catalogues every license and certification and lists out the requirements in a checklist format. Whether it’s a medical board that is set to expire or a CPR training that’s needed, it serves up the requirements for keeping those certifications active, and prioritizes them by urgency.

When a physician receives a few hours of continuing medical education (CME), they simply snap a picture of it and submit it to MOCINGBIRD. The company loads it into the dashboard on the backend, updating requirements and deadlines along the way. Users get notifications by email or through an app that let them know when a certification is nearing its expiration, so they have time to take the necessary steps or upload the paperwork.

The hard work happens behind the scenes as the MOCINGBIRD team carefully researches the nuanced licensing requirements of every state and every medical board. These are all kept up to date so that users never miss an hour of sexual assault training or advanced life support (ALS). Plus, once a user realizes that they’re missing, for instance, an hour of cultural competency training, they can click over to a simple search bar to find a qualifying course.

While clinicians are the main users, MOCINGBIRD is primarily a B2B business, selling their platform on a subscription basis to hospitals. For medical facilities, MOCINGBIRD represents an opportunity to understand in real time whether that facility is operating in compliance with licensing requirements.

There’s an administrator dashboard that instantly visualizes how many providers are properly licensed, and whose licenses are in need of attention. In the old system, administrators had to figure this out by knowing all the regulations themselves, tracking them all on spreadsheets, and then texting or calling the clinicians. With MOCINGBIRD, it’s laid out as transparent data, and there’s a way to contact clinicians directly from the platform.

Worthy Investment

The hours of frustration and anxiety created by licensing paperwork might not seem like a critical issue to those outside of healthcare. But COVID-19 put a spotlight on the fragile nature of our healthcare workforce. They are pushed to the limit as they work daily to save lives.

Requiring them to then spend their off hours obsessing over spreadsheets and faxing paperwork to state boards is a bridge too far. We need technologies like MOCINGBIRD that can help safeguard our heathcare providers from burnout, so that they can thrive – not just for their patients, but for their families and communities.

But saving a few hours on paperwork, and buffeting clinicians against burnout, is just the beginning. MOCINGBIRD has a health moonshot vision that goes way beyond eliminating fax machines.

This will take a few years, but by using MOCINGBIRD as a coordinated national platform for continuing medical education, clinicians will begin to be able to measure the effectiveness of one course over another, and choose the CME that will actually make them a better clinician. Through better data, transparency and standardization, MOCINGBIRD can eventually improve medical education broadly, and thus improve patient outcomes.

A streamlined, comprehensive dashboard for handling MOC is an idea whose time has come, and MOCINGBIRD is poised to upgrade the industry. We’ll look back and be shocked that we allowed these critical elements of our healthcare system to live in file cabinets, spreadsheets and fax machines for so long, but the future is bright. A streamlined MOC dashboard will give clinicians their free time back, help hospitals deliver up-to-date care and ultimately improve medical education. That’s a health moonshot we can heartily get behind.

*MOCINGBIRD is one of the 350 companies in the StartUp Health Portfolio.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Logan Plaster is the editor-in-chief of StartUp Health, which chronicles the people, technology and ideas shaping the future of health. Logan is also the host of StartUp Health TV

1 Comment

  1. If you are organized (as one should be) and have a calendar app. You don’t need people to do this for you. I have a calendar memo 60 days before my license expires, same thing for my ALS courses, DEA, CURES, etc. I have folder with all my CME activities that gets updates after each course. When it is time to renew, it just takes me a few minutes to enter the information, pay and I am done. If anyone wants to change MOC, addressing the root of the problem with the licensing authorities and medical boards is where the efforts should focus.

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