There are hundreds, if not thousands, of professions — nursing, massage therapy, and real estate to name a few — where you need a license to do your job. As anyone in those professions will tell you, applying for and renewing a license on a regular basis is a slow, painful process. Often filled with headaches, uncertainty, and inefficiencies. As a former occupational regulator charged with overseeing that process, I can tell you that it’s rarely a great experience on the other side of the table either. I talk with other regulators daily who feel the same.
The way most regulators approach occupational license applications and renewals has traditionally been clunky and cumbersome. As a result, the process takes longer, costs more, and leaves everyone involved feeling challenged. Part of the problem is that most regulators tend to rely on legacy systems that simply are not particularly good at streamlining. Worse yet, some use some a combination of spreadsheets and pen and paper to manage it. The result? Regulatory staff are pulled away daily from focusing on important strategic projects and instead deal with time-consuming admin work, that more efficient technology could completely resolve.
Another big challenge is a lack of standardization. While there’s lots of common ground, how licenses are obtained and renewed varies from profession to profession and state to state, adding a lot of complexity. Expectedly, the process takes longer, costs more, and leads to a less-than-ideal experience for end users and regulators alike.
The good news: it doesn’t have to be that way. As a former regulator myself, having spent decades facing these challenges, I can say this with the utmost confidence.
The case for regulatory transformation
Anytime someone is applying for an occupational license, there are standard steps that they must follow. They’ll have to share basic demographic information, provide documentation such as a photo ID, and be able to verify their education and necessary credentials. They’ll also be asked to provide their employment history, complete a criminal record check, and verify if they have any registrations or licenses in other jurisdictions. Applicants must also provide a series of declarations and attestations about potential disciplinary actions against them in other jurisdictions. Only after all of that is done can they pay their fee and submit their application for approval.
While that process may seem straightforward, behind the scenes there are a lot of manual steps involved. For example, interfacing with third parties like universities and background checking service providers, to validate information, which takes a lot of time. In fact, the entire process can easily last anywhere from eight to ten weeks before an application is ready to be approved.
For end users who submitted all required information, it’s a frustrating waiting game. That’s because after doing their part, they typically have little, if any visibility into where their application stands. And while poor customer experiences like these certainly are not unique to professional licensing, the damage they can do is very real. Many applicants become impatient and decide to call the regulator for an update. For the larger regulatory authorities, it’s common to get up to 800 such calls a day. Not only is the call an inconvenience for the applicants, it also means the regulators must employ a small army of customer service reps to answer them.
Another issue that regulators often face is the overwhelming amount of administrative overhead associated with processing applications. At many agencies, applications still float around offices in manila folders with a tick sheet printed on them. As they make their way through the approval process, the applications float around the office with the tick sheets updated by hand as each step along the way is completed. While that approach certainly works, it’s slow, burdensome, and creates a lot of unnecessary noise for the regulator. This process unnecessarily brings regulators in at every step of the journey, rather than just at the key decision points.
Reporting is also incredibly important. Every regulator must provide data to the government, which tends to ask for granular information about everything from how many applications were filed in a particular period to the average age of people who experienced disciplinary action. Of course, most legacy systems are not equipped to do this kind of reporting. They’re designed to collect information, but they don’t have the ability to analyze or derive insights from it. Meanwhile, trying to create reports manually can be a real nightmare. I recently spoke to one regulator who must maintain over 60 individual spreadsheets to meet reporting requirements. Can you imagine?
Pain points like these all help to illustrate why regulatory transformation is so important. With the right technology, it is possible to find new, more efficient, and better ways of doing things.
The future of professional licensing is here
Our industry-leading technology completely reimagines the way that regulatory bodies manage their licensing processes. With Thentia Cloud, regulators can manage all their unique regulatory requirements within one centralized, highly configurable platform. We complement our technology by taking a proactive approach to understanding your needs, assuming an advisory role, and offering an unparalleled level of scrutiny, guidance, and leadership that other technology providers are incapable of offering.
Thentia was built for regulators by regulators to address the risks presented by legacy systems. For example, older systems are usually very expensive and take a long time to develop. Often, even after being custom-built, these systems don’t deliver on expectations. With other technology providers, it’s clear, they weren’t designed for regulation, so they don’t meet regulatory environments. Additionally, the vendors are more than likely not former regulators, and lack expertise or knowledge of the sector.
Thentia is at the forefront of regulatory transformation, and it gets meaningful results, including:
- A much faster licensing process. Licenses can be approved in a couple of days rather than as long as ten weeks, saving a huge amount of administrative overhead in the process.
- A significant reduction in calls. Because the process is so fast and easy, applicants can self-serve and have little reason, if any, to call in. When I was a regulator, we reduced our call volumes by 95 percent, allowing us to save money and redirect team members to focus on higher value work.
- Instant reporting. Thentia Cloud can deliver 36 of the most requested reports right out of the box. Plus, it can be configured to create any other report you might need in a matter of minutes.
Ultimately, Thentia Cloud removes the friction from the licensing process, making it a faster and easier process for everyone involved.
Since getting professionals into practice fast is more important than ever, regulatory bodies would be wise to challenge the status quo and find new and better ways to manage the licensing process. At Thentia, we offer a solution that is trusted by millions of licensing professionals around the world. If you have not embraced regulatory transformation, it’s time to use technology that will allow you to work smarter and more efficiently.
About Dr. Sheila Marchant-Short
Dr. Sheila Marchant-Short is a subject matter expert with over four decades of experience in nursing and health care regulation. She has worked in various roles at public health organizations in Canada and the U.S., including the College of Registered Nurses of Prince Edward Island (CRNPEI), where she recently served as Chief Executive Officer and Registrar for almost five years. She is currently Thentia’s Managing Director of Health Care Regulation.