On March 1, 2010, the Health Resources and Services Administration of U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded a $498,000 grant to the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. The grant funded a two-year ARRA – Licensure Portability Grant Program, which ended in February 2012. The stated purpose of the ARRA – Licensure Portability Grant Program was to reduce barriers to the cross-border licensing of physicians and, therefore, increase the portability of physician licenses. Improving how states’ Medical Boards share information among themselves is instrumental to breaking down barriers to the cross-border practice of medicine and to increasing licensure portability. Therefore, one strategy the ARRA – Licensure Portability Grant Program employed to improve licensure portability in the region is to use grant funds to develop an Online Verification System. The Online Verification System is intended to make requesting licensure verifications easier for physicians and to improve communication among licensing and regulatory agencies.
The Online Licensure Verification System (OVS) is a web-based application that electronically receives and fulfills requests to verify health professional credentials issued by Linked Boards to Medical Boards and Third Parties. A Linked Board is a Medical Board or other licensing authority who adopts OVS to fulfill its licensure verification process by creating the two links between itself and OVS. The two links are the e-payment gateway and credential data web-service.
There is no direct cost to link or use the Online Verification System. The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services does not charge other Boards or state agencies to use OVS. Therefore, there are no required fees, either to link or use OVS. The Online Verification System will only generate income for a Linked Board, should it require a fee to verify a license.
Still, there are some costs involved in linking and maintaining the links to OVS. The cost a Linked Board will incur to link to OVS is the payroll costs for an IT Developer to create the linkages between the Board and OVS. On average, a skilled IT Developer should be able to create the required linkages in 50-80 hours.
Beyond developing the linkages to OVS, a Linked Board may also incur minimal costs to monitor and maintain its linkages with OVS. However, these maintenance costs would only be incurred when a Linked Board upgrades or otherwise changes its IT environment.
In general, when a Board decides to become a Linked Board, there are seven steps that it must complete to begin verifying licenses through OVS. Below is an overview of each step.
The first step that a Board must complete is signing the licensing process. The licensing agreement describes the relationship with the Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) and the Linked Board. The licensing agreement is intended to identify each party’s rights and responsibilities and to protect all of the user types of OVS. Click here to view the Online Verification System Licensing Agreement.
The second step is to identify which Linked Board’s regulated health profession licenses will be verified through OVS. In determining which health profession licenses will be verified through OVS, staff at a Board will work with DSPS IT Staff.
The third step in becoming a Linked Board is to develop the required web service to link a Linked Board’s licensing database and OVS.
The web service enables: the Physician to search and identify which license he or she would like to Linked Board to verify and display the licensing information to the recipient of the verification.
The fourth step in becoming a Linked Board is programming a link between an e-payment gateway and OVS, if required. This link is the second of OVS’s two dependencies.
The fifth step a Board must complete to link to OVS is to collaborate with DSPS to define its customization specifications.
The sixth step involves ensuring that all aspects of the transaction function as intended and are secure between OVS and a Linked Board. The testing process involves collaboration between the Linked Board and DSPS.
Finally, the seventh step is to “go live,” meaning that the Linked Board announces its new verification process and directs licensees wanting to verify their licenses to OVS through a link on the Board’s website.
For general information regarding the Online Verification System, please contact Tom Ryan, Executive Director, at Thomas.Ryan@wisconsin.gov or 608-261-2378.
For questions regarding the licensing agreement, please contact Michael Berndt, Chief Legal Counsel, at Michael.Berndt@wisconsin.gov or 608-267-2914.