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Tomorrow’s MSP® Careers: Interview with Joyce Morales of Acorn Credentialing Solutions

December 3, 2022

Joyce Morales

Medical Services and Credentialing Professionals have long been an essential part of the U.S. healthcare system. As the landscape of healthcare has evolved over time, so has the role and function of MSPs. Today’s MSPs have more career opportunities available than ever before. While most career resources for MSPs focus on more typical roles (such as Coordinators, Specialists, Managers, and Directors), this series will highlight a few seasoned MSPs whose career paths have taken less-traditional routes.

Joyce Morales is the Manager of Implementation and Customer Success at Acorn Credentialing Solutions. Acorn is an end-to-end healthcare credentialing solution created by experts for hospitals, medical provider groups, and health insurance payers. Prior to working at Acorn, Joyce worked for a different credentialing software company as well as a medical staff coordinator at a hospital. Joyce is proud of the excellent service Acorn provides clients, and she loves helping clients improve their processes and be successful with Acorn. Read more below to learn more about Joyce’s career path and her advice for other MSPs.

How did you make the career transition from Medical Staff Services to credentialing software? What were the circumstances and how did it come about?

I was working as a Medical Staff Coordinator in a hospital that was getting a new integrated software system for risk management, quality management and utilization review. They recognized my affinity for learning new software and asked me to participate in the implementation. The primary system manager left the organization, and I became the system manager for the new software in addition to my duties as a Medical Staff Coordinator.  A year later, the hospital was going through some hardships and was starting to lay off staff.  I approached the software company and asked about positions to prepare for an alternate career path in case I needed it. Since they needed someone for their credentialing product, they called me the next day to come for an interview.  I went to the interview, and they made me an offer I couldn’t refuse for a position helping their clients to implement their credentialing software. After 16 years with that organization, I transferred to work at Acorn Credentialing Solutions.

Describe your role and what a typical day or week looks like for you.

I work directly with Acorn’s clients as well as Acorn‘s internal staff on a daily basis. My main responsibilities are to assist our clients with the implementation of our credentialing and payer enrollment software. As part of the implementation process, I assess their current processes, work with them to configure their product to manage their workflow and streamline their processes, manage the project plan, train them on using the software and provide ongoing support. Another important aspect of my role is to assist with system enhancements which are usually released on a monthly basis. I translate client enhancement requests, work with the IT department on the enhancements to ensure they best meet the needs of our clients, and I test the enhancements before they are deployed to the client. Additionally, I recommend enhancements to ensure our products comply with TJC and NCQA standards. I also prepare and send out the release notes to our clients and keep our user guides up to date.  

What is your favorite part about working in credentialing software?

What I most enjoy about my work is interacting with our clients and having a direct role in showing them how our software can increase their productivity and efficiency. It’s always rewarding to see firsthand how our product benefits our clients. Since I’ve walked in their shoes, I understand their challenges and I love hearing their excitement when they realize how our software can alleviate their pain points.

What in your past experience best prepared you for your work with credentialing software?

Two main areas in my past work experience helped prepare me for a career in credentialing software. First, having spent over a decade in Medical Staff Services, I know the challenges of working in the role and the need for streamlining processes. Secondly, having used several different credentialing software systems and leading the implementation process in a hospital setting, I came into the role with an understanding of how credentialing systems work and familiarity with the implementation process.

How has your role in software changed or evolved over the years?

My introduction to credentialing software started when I was a system user working as a Medical Staff Coordinator at a hospital. Later, I started working for a credentialing software company in an implementation role. My current position with Acorn Credentialing has led to many growth and learning opportunities, and I’ve been able to acquire many new skills that have built upon my earlier experience. In the past four years at Acorn, I’ve learned how to develop training manuals, learned about payer enrollment and payer credentialing, and performed software demonstrations for many potential customers. Additionally, I’ve learned a great deal about communicating enhancements and enhancement testing.

What are the biggest changes in the industry that you’ve seen?

One of the biggest areas where I’ve seen change is the increasing focus on FPPE and OPPE. COVID changed the healthcare system for everyone, especially for providers.  The growth in the telehealth industry has been staggering. Advancements in technology have changed the game in the credentialing.  Internet based software has reduced the burden for hospital IT resources, reduced hardware costs and increased the access to credentialing systems for both users and providers. This increased access was especially valuable during COVID as users were working from home and allowed for virtual review processes for Medical Staff leadership and kept credentialing processes going. Additional technologies such as electronic signatures, use of mobile phones and other digital devices have become increasingly important over time.

Are there any changes or trends you expect to see in the industry in the next few years?

I am happy to see a shift to a 3-year reappointment cycle which should lessen the burden on credentialing staff.  In the healthcare industry overall, I think there will be fewer physicians and more independent practitioners.  I also see a shift in how patients access care.

Is there anything you were unprepared for, or wish you had known before you started in software?

I am kind of a software nerd and feel I was destined to work in this industry all along.  My past experience and my natural affinities made me a good fit for the role. I felt prepared to move into the credentialing software business and was fortunate to have mentors along the way to teach me what I needed to know.

What advice do you have for an MSP considering a career in credentialing software?

My advice is to gain some experience or knowledge of different software systems and become familiar with the features and functions that make them different. If you decide to pursue a career in the software industry, go with a system that you believe in and you will be successful.

When interviewing or hiring MSPs to work at Acorn, what knowledge, skills, and experience do you look for?

The ideal candidate is someone who has worked in a hospital in Medical Staff Services for a significant period of time and who has used several different software platforms and perhaps assisted in the implementation of software at their organization. I would look for someone who has an affinity to learn new systems and has some project management experience. In this field, it’s important to be an extrovert who can communicate well with our clients. It’s also important that a candidate is both a team player and is able to work independently, and that they’re accountable for their work. 

Visit www.acorncredentialing.com to learn more about Acorn’s credentialing solution, and book a live demo to see what Acorn’s experts can do for you!

Tomorrow’s MSP® is registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office as a service mark of National Association Medical Staff Services

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