Once you have set up your account(s) and any other staff in the CMS Surrogacy program as described in Part 1 of this article series, it's time to set up Connections with providers/organizations. There are two important steps to take here first.
Determine if you will be setting up the Connection between your organization and your providers/organizations yourself or whether you will rely upon the provider/organization to complete the process. If you will be setting up provider/organization accounts yourself, you will be utilizing their login username and password one last time to complete the Connection for you to be their surrogate. I highly recommend that you obtain, in writing, authorization from each provider/organization that you have their permission to be utilizing their login credentials.
If you are not going to set up each provider/organization’s account, then you will need to notify the provider/organization that you will be setting yourself and your organization up as a surrogate to work on their behalf. Providers and organizations will receive email communications the minute you request a Connection and you will want them to complete that Connection by logging into their I&A account and to approve the Connection to your organization.
In many situations, you will be setting everything up for your providers/organizations because they will not want to be bothered with this process and, for many, this would be the first time they would ever be accessing their I&A account and probably know nothing about it. As you make a request for a Connection to your organization on behalf of the provider/organization, you will need to choose which products (PECOS, EHR and/or NPPES) the provider/organization will grant you access on their behalf. You do so by checking off the boxes next to the products.
As you set up each provider/organization account and request a Connection with your organization, you may log into your account as an AO/DO and approve those requests. You will see an Approval or Rejection button for each product chosen on behalf of the provider/organization. If the provider is completing the Connection, they have the ability to reject a Connection request, so it is best to communicate in advance so they are informed of what to do. Additionally, email notifications are sent to all users when new Connections are created.
A most important note
A provider or Organization approving a Connection (Surrogate) to work on their behalf does not give that user authority to sign Medicare enrollment applications in PECOS. All enrollment applications are still required to be signed by the Individual Provider or appropriate Official of the Organizational Provider.
It will take approximately 24 hours for this Connection to be recognized by PECOS and/or EHR. NPPES is currently not available once you have become a surrogate, but CMS expects this to be available in the future.
As an AO or DO, you have the ability to manage your staff. You may create Connections to allow access for staff and you can invite and manage which providers your staff may access. You may turn access off immediately upon staff separation from your organization.
Only approved AOs and DOs are able to create and manage connections. If you have been authorized to perform these functions, you will need to perform a role change request on the My Profile page under the employer information section at the bottom of the page, and have your AO approve you to be a DO. Once approved, a connection will not expire, but either party may login and remove the Connection at any time.
AOs and DOs are able to see all the Individual Providers who have approved a third party organization as their Surrogate. Staff need be given access to those records by an AO or DO.
Any AO, staff end user, or individual provider who previously accessed PECOS, NPPES or EHR already has an account. Existing usernames and passwords previously used to access PECOS, EHR and NPPES have been converted, and may still be used in I&A.
So now that you have completed all of this work to set up your provider/organization I&A accounts and your own/organization account(s), what benefit will this be to you?
The login username and password you chose for your account may now be used to log into PECOS, EHR and, eventually NPPES. Once you login to PECOS, you will go to My Enrollments and you now see all the providers/organizations Medicare enrollment files available to you to access. All with one login username and password … yours.
The same will be the case with EHR. Login using your username and password and all providers/organizations will be listed for you to work on EHR meaningful use registrations or attestations.
This is a considerable timesavings, whether utilizing PECOS or EHR, from having to login in and out of multiple accounts, remembering multiple usernames and passwords.
David Zetter is founder and consultant at Zetter HealthCare. He specializes in all aspects of practice management, is a nationally sought-after and recognized speaker, a Certified Healthcare Business Consultant and a member of the National Society of Certified Healthcare Business Consultants.