Physician Credentialing Vs Privileging: What Is The Difference

Touseef Riaz

September 5, 2023

physician credentialing and privileging

In the complex landscape of modern healthcare, ensuring the quality and competence of medical professionals is paramount. Two essential processes that contribute to this assurance are physician credentialing and privileging. While these terms might seem interchangeable, they represent distinct and critical steps in maintaining the integrity of healthcare institutions.

Physician Credentialing  and Privileging: Building the Foundation of Trust

Physician credentialing is the foundational step in ensuring healthcare providers meet the qualifications, education, training, and licensure to practice medicine. It is a meticulous process that involves verifying the authenticity of a physician’s credentials, certifications, and licenses.

physician credentialing and privileging Let’s delve into the critical aspects of physician credentialing:

  • Documentation Review: During credentialing, healthcare organisations meticulously review a physician’s educational transcripts, training certificates, and medical licenses. This process ensures that the healthcare provider has completed the required education and training to practice medicine safely and effectively.
  • Work History Verification: Credentialing involves verifying a physician’s work history, including prior medical practice, hospital affiliations, and disciplinary actions. This step helps to establish a comprehensive picture of the physician’s professional background.
  • Malpractice History Check: Healthcare organisations assess a physician’s malpractice history to maintain patient safety. This involves reviewing past malpractice claims or settlements, offering insight into the physician’s track record in providing safe and quality care.
  • Peer References: Healthcare institutions often require references from peers, mentors, and supervisors who can vouch for a physician’s clinical competence and professionalism. These references are crucial in validating the physician’s skills and character.

Privileging: Granting Clinical Authority

Privileging is the subsequent step after credentialing and involves granting a physician the authority to perform specific clinical procedures and services within a healthcare facility. This process ensures that healthcare providers can only practice within their scope of expertise, minimising potential risks and optimizing patient safety. The critical components of privileging include:

  • Scope of Practice Assessment: Healthcare institutions assess a physician’s clinical competence and skills to determine the range of medical procedures and services they can perform. This assessment aligns with the physician’s training and experience.
  • Clinical Evaluation: Physicians seeking privileges often undergo an evaluation process, including written and practical examinations. This evaluation ensures that the physician possesses the necessary skills to provide high-quality care in the designated areas.
  • Peer Review: A critical aspect of privileging involves peer review, where established medical professionals within the institution evaluate the physician’s clinical abilities and recommend appropriate privileges. This process adds a layer of validation and expertise to the privileging decision.
  • Ongoing Monitoring: Healthcare organizations monitor physicians’ performance once privileges are granted to ensure continued compliance with established standards. Regular performance evaluations and quality assurance measures help maintain patient safety and care quality.

Key Differences and Synergies:

Focus and Purpose:

  • Credentialing primarily verifies a physician’s qualifications, education, and licensure.
  • Privileging concentrates on determining a physician’s clinical abilities and authorizing them to perform specific procedures.


  • Credentialing precedes privileging and acts as a prerequisite for the latter.
  • Privileging follows credentialing and involves granting clinical authority based on a physician’s skills.


  • Credentialing encompasses many factors, including education, training, licensure, and work history.
  • Privileging focuses on clinical competence and the ability to perform specific medical procedures.

Credentialing and privileging in Healthcare

Credentialing and privileging are two essential processes within the healthcare industry. These ensure medical professionals’ qualifications, competence, and authority to provide safe, quality patient care. While closely related, they have distinct purposes and stages in evaluating healthcare practitioners.


Credentialing verifies and assesses a healthcare provider’s qualifications, education, training, licenses, and professional background. Credentialing aims to confirm that a medical practitioner meets the requirements to practice within a specific healthcare institution, network, or organisation. This process helps to ensure that healthcare providers have the appropriate skills, education, and ethical standing to offer medical credentialing services. Credentialing involves thoroughly verifying documents, work history, references, and other relevant information.

Critical aspects of credentialing include:

  • Verification of medical degrees, licenses, and certifications.
  • Review of educational transcripts and training.
  • Validation of work history, including previous hospital affiliations and practice locations.
  • Assessment of malpractice history and any disciplinary actions.
  • Evaluation of references and recommendations from peers and mentors.


Privileging grants a healthcare provider specific clinical privileges or the authority to perform certain medical procedures, treatments, and services within a healthcare facility. It is a more focused evaluation that takes place after credentialing and is based on a practitioner’s demonstrated clinical competence and expertise. Privileging ensures that medical professionals are only allowed to practice within their scope of training and experience, minimizing potential risks to patient safety.

Critical aspects of privileging include:

  • Assessment of a physician’s clinical skills and abilities.
  • Determination of the scope of procedures and services a physician is authorized to perform.
  • Peer review by experienced medical professionals to validate the physician’s clinical competence.
  • Ongoing monitoring and evaluation of the physician’s performance and compliance with established standards.

Difference Between Credentialing And Privileging Certification 

Credentialing, privileging, and certification are all critical terms in healthcare, but they each have distinct meanings.

Credentialing is like checking a doctor’s “medical ID.” It’s ensuring a healthcare provider has the proper education, training, and licenses to practice medicine. It’s like ensuring a restaurant chef has the right skills to cook.

Privileging is giving a doctor permission to do certain medical things. Imagine a video game: a doctor earns points by showing they can do specific medical tasks well. These points add up and determine what medical jobs they can do. It’s like unlocking different levels in a game.

Certification is like getting a special gold star for being good at something. When a doctor gets certified, it means they’ve shown they’re excellent in a particular medical area. It’s like when a student receives a certificate for being a great reader.

How do you get credentialing and privileging forms?

Getting the credentialing and privileging forms typically involves a process within a healthcare organization or institution. Here’s a general overview of how you might go about obtaining these forms:

  • Contact the Healthcare Institution: If you are a healthcare professional, such as a physician, nurse, or other medical staff, and you’re looking to get credentialed and privileged at a specific healthcare facility (hospital, clinic, etc.), the first step is to contact the institution’s administrative or credentialing department. You can usually find their contact information on the institution’s website or by calling their main office.
  • Request the Forms: Once you’ve identified the appropriate department, ask them for the credentialing and privileging forms. They can provide these forms electronically via email or direct you to a section of their website where you can download the documents.
  • Fill Out the Forms: Carefully complete the forms with accurate and up-to-date information. The documents typically require details about your education, training, work history, licenses, certifications, references, and other relevant information.
  • Gather Supporting Documents: Along with the forms, you’ll likely need to provide supporting documents such as copies of your medical degrees, licenses, certifications, CV or resume, and any other documentation required by the institution.
  • Submit the Forms: Once you’ve completed the forms and gathered all the necessary documents, follow the instructions provided by the institution to submit your application. Depending on the institution’s procedures, this could involve mailing the forms, emailing them, or using an online submission portal.
  • Follow-Up: After submitting the forms, it’s a good idea to follow up with the credentialing department to ensure they received your application and to inquire about the status of your application. They may have additional steps or information they need from you.

To find the HRSA credentialing checklist or related resources, you can take the following steps:

  • Visit the HRSA Website: Go to the official HRSA website ( and use the search function to look for “credentialing checklist” or similar terms. HRSA often provides resources, guidance documents, and forms on their website.
  • Contact HRSA: If you need help finding the information you’re looking for on the website, consider contacting HRSA directly through the contact information provided. You can get specific HRSA divisions or departments dealing with credentialing healthcare providers.
  • Grantee Resources: If you are associated with an organization that receives HRSA funding or grants, they may provide specific resources, including credentialing checklists, as part of their grant requirements. Check with your organization’s HRSA grant administrator or contact person.
  • Professional Associations: Some healthcare professional associations or networks that work closely with HRSA-funded organizations may also provide guidance or resources related to HRSA credentialing requirements.

Hrsa Credentialing And Privileging Pin

The HRSA credentialing and privileging PIN, or Personal Identification Number, is a unique code that helps healthcare professionals access secure online systems related to their qualifications and clinical permissions. It’s like a secret password for doctors and nurses to use digital tools safely.

Credentialing PIN:

The HRSA credentialing PIN is a unique number assigned to each healthcare provider. It acts like a key to unlock their online profile, which holds essential details like education, licenses, and work history. This helps hospitals and clinics ensure doctors and nurses are qualified to care for patients.

Privileging PIN:

The HRSA privileging PIN works similarly but focuses on granting permission for specific medical tasks. Consider it a personalized “permission slip” for doctors to perform particular procedures or treatments. This PIN ensures that only skilled professionals can do advanced medical jobs, keeping patients safe.

Both PINs are essential for keeping track of healthcare workers’ abilities and responsibilities. They add an extra layer of security and accuracy to the healthcare world, helping everyone make sure patients get the best care possible. Like having a secret code for your favourite game, these PINs help healthcare providers navigate their essential roles in the medical field.

Active And Courtesy Privileges 

Active and courtesy privileges are terms used in healthcare institutions, particularly hospitals, to describe different clinical permissions granted to healthcare providers. Let’s explore the differences between active and courtesy privileges in simple terms:

Active Privileges:

Active privileges are like a “full access pass” for healthcare providers within a hospital. When a healthcare professional has functional benefits, they have been thoroughly evaluated and approved by the hospital’s credentialing. The privileging process to perform specific medical tasks and procedures. These tasks match their training, experience, and expertise. Active privileges allow the provider to admit, diagnose, treat, and manage patients as part of their regular practice at the hospital. They are considered a core and integral part of the medical team.

Courtesy Privileges:

Courtesy privileges are like being a “guest” at another hospital. Healthcare professionals with active requests at one hospital might need to provide care or consult at a different hospital occasionally. In such cases, the second hospital may grant them courtesy privileges. This means they can temporarily practice specific tasks at the second hospital based on their active benefits at their primary hospital. However, the second hospital typically does not conduct the same extensive evaluation as for active privileges, as they trust the review done by the primary hospital.


In the intricate realm of healthcare, physician credentialing and privileging play distinct yet interconnected roles in safeguarding patient well-being and maintaining care quality. Credentialing establishes the foundation of trust by verifying a physician’s qualifications, while privileging ensures that clinical authority is granted only to those with proven expertise. Together, these processes create a robust framework that upholds patient safety, fosters professional integrity, and enhances the overall quality of healthcare delivery. Understanding the differences and synergies between physician credentialing and privileging is essential for healthcare administrators, providers, and patients; it helps underscore the commitment to excellence and accountability within the medical field. U control Billing helps you to meet all your needs for credentialing and privileging.

What are medical staff privileges, and how are they determined?

Medical staff privileges are permissions granted to healthcare professionals by a hospital to perform specific clinical tasks based on their credentials, training, and evaluation.

What does privileging mean in healthcare?

Privileging in healthcare refers to granting healthcare providers the authority to perform specific medical procedures. They also offer services based on their demonstrated clinical competence.

Who is responsible for the credentialing and privileging of medical staff?

A healthcare organization’s medical staff office or credentialing committee is responsible for credentialing and privileging medical staff.

What are the three main types of credentialing?

The three main types of credentialing are appointment, reappointment, and provisional credentialing.

What is a privileged physician?

A privileged physician is a medical professional who has been granted the authority and authorization to perform specific medical procedures.


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