(The Center Square) — The head of the Georgia Composite Medical Board says the agency has its “foot back on the gas” and is progressing on a series of recommendations in a follow-up state audit.
A recent finding from the Georgia Department of Audits & Accounts found that while the agency has addressed some shortcomings uncovered in a November 2020 audit, it has not progressed on others, including performing mandatory background checks for general physician licensure applicants.
Last year, an analysis by The Center Square revealed the GCMB routinely dismisses an overwhelming majority of the complaints it receives, but unreliable data made it challenging to say precisely how many cases it closes without taking action. That led to a call from the head of the Medical Association of Georgia urging state lawmakers to properly fund the GCMB, saying the underfunding of the agency doesn’t benefit anyone in the state.
“We have made some progress since the audit concluded by fully or partially implementing the recommendations,” Daniel Dorsey, executive director of the Georgia Composite Medical Board, told The Center Square via email. “The disruption caused by the death of the previous executive director and the departures of several key management staffers forced us to pump the brakes on some of the audit recommendations.
“However, we have got our foot back on the gas and are moving forward with trying to get these recommendations implemented,” Dorsey added. “At the end of the day, our mission is to protect patients and that is what we are going to do.”
Sarah M. Worthy, CEO and founder of DoorSpace, a company helping health care organizations retain and develop talent, said some of Georgia’s problems are found in health care nationwide.
“While there are some unique circumstances to the situation in Georgia and the GCMB that has led to these delays in implementing required background checks, what is going on with the Georgia Composite Medical Board’s struggles to properly maintain and audit their [members’] professional credentials is nothing new in the US health care system,” Worthy told The Center Square via email. “I regularly speak with health care employers and every one of them has admitted to being ill-prepared for an audit of their documentation. One organization I spoke to admitted that less than 10% of their clinical members were audited yearly.
“The increase [in] budget for staff won’t help solve this problem – more people processing data will still mean delays in getting physicians through these audits and approved to treat patients,” Worthy added. “What these organizations need is new technology to enable them to rapidly process and verify these data points like credentials, education, work history, and other background data and maintain this information rather than collect it annually (or longer in many cases).
“Throwing more people at this problem simply won’t work — we need innovative technology solutions to manage this data at scale.”
By T.A. DeFeo | The Center Square contributor