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Navigating Vendor Access Amid Covid-19

created: Wednesday, August 19, 2020 updated: Tuesday, October 20, 2020
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Vendor access policy trends update

GHX Vendormate has analyzed information regarding COVID-19 related vendor policies throughout the US for healthcare facilities within the Vendormate network.

We’ve found that the most common policy implementation includes screening for COVID-19 symptoms, travel risks, or potential contact with an infected individual, while testing is less often required. Personal protective equipment (PPE) may be required, but most policies don’t include specifics regarding N95 mask requirements.

To address the needs of both healthcare facilities and their vendors, GHX Vendormate has implemented the following:

  • A health system policy template to assist in creating clear vendor access policies
  • A COVID-19 screening declaration feature within the Vendormate application (to be used before obtaining a badge for facility entry)
  • Respirator Fit Testing (RFT) in collaboration with Mobile Health for N95 masks
  • A COVID-19 Health System Access Report within the Vendormate application to summarize policies and requirements for vendor employees

Vendor Policies

Essential vendors may be allowed access, but an appointment may be required.          

Eleven percent of policies indicate that appointments are required. To provide vendors quick visibility to provider policies, a consolidated view of COVID-19 related healthcare system policies can be found via a newly created report. Vendors can access the report from the Home tab in their Vendormate profile.    

COVID-19 Screening

The most common policy requirement is COVID-19 screening.

In July, we noted that 39 percent of provider policies we reviewed have an on-location screening requirement. These requirements are often self-reporting COVID-19 symptoms such as temperature, cough, and loss of taste or smell prior to accessing the facility. In support, we have developed a new product feature to assist healthcare facilities implement screening declarations. This new declaration feature allows healthcare system vendor compliance and credentialing teams to configure screening statements that must be answered before vendors enter the facility.

COVID-19 Testing

Only five percent of policies require COVID-19 testing.

Due to the timing and availability of testing, fewer providers require viral (i.e., molecular or antigen) or serology (i.e., antibody) testing.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

Policies indicating N95 mask requirements are increasing.

The analysis showed nine percent of policies indicated that N95 masks might be required, up slightly from seven percent in July.

Notably, 12 percent of providers are now indicating in their policies that they will provide supply of N95 masks. This marks a significant change from July 2020 when more than 96 percent of providers were undecided or did not specify who would provide N95 masks to vendor representatives. Vendormate policy templates help guide such details and clarity for all parties involved.

Fit testing for N95 masks was documented in six percent of policies. To enable respirator fit testing for vendor employees, GHX is working with Mobile Health to schedule a fit test quickly and easily for respirators such as N95 masks. Vendor representatives can use the GHX Mobile Health Vendor Testing Requisition website and receive a same-day appointment confirmation. This helps supplier representatives be properly fitted with equipment to resume their duties while onsite at healthcare facilities.

To gain alignment on policies, it is recommended that providers be clear about what PPE is required, which locations (e.g. facilities, departments, etc.) require the PPE and who will provide it. To help develop these clear policies, we provide a policy template on the GHX COVID-19 Info Center.

For vendors, please log in to your Vendormate profile to stay up to date on your customer’s policies. When required, work with your customers to schedule an appointment. For vendor employees required to have a fit test for N95 respirators, submit your request online at https://www.mobilehealth.net/ghx/.

This document is meant to provide summary information only, based on GHX’s review of healthcare facility policies within our network and published information. Please ensure your policy is in alignment with your infection control guidelines, specific facility needs, and state and local guidelines

About the analysis: The analysis is based on a national data set of 249 COVID-19 related health system vendor policies as of September 30, 2020.