Maryland Board of Nursing
Online License Renewal Solution

In 1997, when the Maryland Board of Nursing (MBON) called on Edge Systems to provide an IMEDGE forms processing system to help the board streamline the Nursing License Renewal process, it was considered a major coup in the never-ending quest to tame the paper beast. Ms. Lynn Kirk-Flury, MBON Director of Information Systems was satisfied with the results. After the initial implementation she explained, “The new in-house system gives us the control we need, plus it ensures that all forms are processed on time. An added benefit is our ability to quickly and correctly handle complaints and discrepancies.” But like all technology solutions…there was room for improvement. Fast forward to 2003—today the Maryland Board of Nursing has leveraged the power of the Internet to bring the license renewal process on line. In fact with the help of Edge Systems, the Board has created a solution that processes not only Nursing License Renewals, but also renewals for nursing assistants, as well as certifications for medication assistants.

Nursing License Renewal

The improved Nursing License Renewal System provides on-line license renewal for all active Registered Nurses (RN), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), and Advanced Practical Nurses (APN). Nursing Licenses must be renewed on an annual basis. According to Ms. Kirk-Flury, “Currently over 60% of nurses in the state are renewing on-line.” MBON is hoping to have all licenses eventually renewed on line. Part of the strategy is a discontinuation of MBON’s policy of mailing out paper renewal forms. “It used to be that the board would send a renewal form out to the nurses that they filled out and returned.” Ms. Kirk-Flury explained, “Now we send out a flyer that tells applicants that they can either renew on line or send in a request for the paper renewal form to be mailed to them.” By offering the choice of on-line or paper renewal, MBON is seeing a steadily increasing number of nurses renewing on-line, and the benefits are readily apparent. The on-line system allows for the electronic capture of the data, providing hours of reduced effort for MBON staff. It is no longer necessary to open mail, prepare and scan the forms, and perform quality assurance on the forms. In addition, all payments are handled electronically via credit card, eliminating the need for staff to process payment information. Errors have been greatly reduced and the turnaround time is vastly improved.  According Ms. Kirk-Flury, “The Nurse can renew on line today and the new license will be sent out tomorrow.”

The on-line Nursing License Renewal System co-exists with the IMEDGE forms processing system, allowing MBON to use the same workflow process. With the on-line solution, the only manual process involves mailing the renewed licenses to the nurses. The on-line and forms processing systems combined handle nearly 7,000 applications per month.

Medication Assistant Certification Registry

Recently, MBON took on the task of maintaining a registry of certified medication assistants. MBON looked to Edge to develop a web based solution, and now this procedure is performed and maintained entirely on line. According to Ms. Kirk-Flury, “Medication Assistants are required to take a clinical update class every two years. The system allows Instructors to enter the names of individuals that completed the update. The system maintains a registry of certified individuals and their current status.”  Employers and other individuals that need to check the current status of medication assistants can access the registry on line, saving considerable time and effort in the certification process.

Nursing Assistant Certification

Also being handled on line is the renewal program for Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA). According to Ms. Kirk-Flury, “Prior to the year 2000, CNA’s didn’t have to be certified. But now this task has been taken on by the Board of Nursing.”   A web-based solution was the logical choice, and was recently implemented. For the CNA certification, the nursing assistant logs into the web site and fills out the license renewal information much like the nursing license renewal process mentioned earlier. Unlike RN’s, LPN’s and APN’s, CNA’s are required to have their supervising nurse approve the application. Edge provided a system that allows the approving nurse to log in to the site, review the CNA’s application and approve the application on line. There are about 2,000 CNA requests being processed per month.

Benefits for the MBON

As mentioned, the system provides significant labor savings as well as improved operating efficiency. An interesting key benefit of the new on-line applications is improved data accuracy. When an applicant logs into the system and enters their identifying data the system extracts legacy data from an existing database and presents it to the user. Then all the applicant has to do is review and make necessary updates to the data. In effect, the applicant is providing a quality check of the data, eliminating the need for MBON staff to quality assure the data. Even customer support is now simplified. Because the system is a simple, self-explanatory web browser-based application, the MBON staff can handle the vast majority of support calls with only a small percentage of the calls being offloaded to Edge.

Enhanced Reporting and Audit Trail Capabilities

To further streamline MBON’s administrative processes, Edge developed a Crystal Reports based web reporting system for management review and daily transaction summary reporting. A variety of reporting options have been developed, both analytical and transactional. Explains Ms. Kirk-Flury, “We use the reporting system to ease the payment reconciliation process. The on-line payment processor is only able to give us credit card numbers and payment amounts. With the Edge reporting system, we have access to information such as name, social security number, nursing license number and type, amount paid, and other pertinent information. Plus, we can run a report based on a date range, allowing us to get an accurate snapshot of activity during any given period of time. Previously, our reports were limited to batches, which made it difficult to run a report across a wider time window.”

Future Improvements

According to Ms. Kirk-Flury, there may be future applications being added as MBON takes on new responsibilities. “We’re looking at a generic on-line licensing system to handle a variety of professional licensing requirements that have a smaller user base.”