Foreign Physician Growth in the U.S. and the Impact on Medical Credentialing

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Foreign Physicians are being upheld to more stringent standards, including medical credentialing, with the influx of new patients entering the healthcare system under Obama's proposed universal healthcare plan

Since there are no federal regulations regarding foreign educational systems, the need for more robust medical credentialing of foreign physicians is necessary to reduce risk in today’s heath care industry

According to an article from the Journal of General Internal Medicine, healthcare planners projected that physician surpluses of both U.S. medical graduates, (USMG’s) and international medical graduates (IMG’s), would be at a 145,000 by the year 2004, the latest date given. The greatest increase has been in IMG’s with an increase of approximately 4,800 per year since 1978. There are currently over 795,000 physicians in the U.S., with over 185,000 foreign graduate physicians, or 24% of the physician population.

With these figures and the continued influx of international medical graduates studying and practicing medicine in this country, these graduates will more than likely remain a valuable resource in medical care in the United States. Characteristics of foreign medical graduates however, differ from those of U.S. medical graduates, due to varying cultures and educational requirements of foreign physicians. Greater emphasis on medical credentialing and evaluations is placed on foreign medical professionals who seek employment in the U.S., as they are subject to special certification and licensing requirements. Degrees, diplomas and credit recognition by foreign medical graduates however, are not performed or regulated by the federal government. The U.S. being a federal republic has a decentralized system of education, and designations of study or educational institutions are not set forth in law or protected, and therefore vary.

“Since there are no federal regulations regarding foreign educational systems, the need for more robust medical credentialing of foreign physicians is necessary to reduce risk in today’s heath care industry,” stated Michael Melville, president of IntelliSoft Group. “IMG’s practicing in the U.S. is expected to grow at greater than historical rates to support the millions of new patients that will enter the system under Obama’s universal healthcare plan. An automated medical credentialing process becomes necessary to those healthcare organizations that employ foreign medical graduates, insuring that foreign physicians meet the highest of standards across the board.” The Education Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG) has very strict examinations that all foreign medical graduates must pass, before they go on to the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) six areas of general competency standards. These two entities help insure that the medical credentials of all IMG’s will be upheld to the competency standards set by the Joint Commission and NCQA.

IntelliCred and IntelliApp medical credentialing and provider enrollment software are products of IntelliSoft Group. With customers in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, IntelliSoft Group provides innovative, ongoing information management solutions to healthcare systems, hospitals, managed care organizations, CVO’s, IPA’s and PHO’s. Continually using technology to improve all aspects of credentialing, IntelliSoft Group delivers products and services that exceed our customer’s expectations. For more information, please contact us at 888-634-4464, online at http://www.intellisoftgroup.com.

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Pamela Thornhill
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