As a part of larger efforts across state government to make services more efficient, effective, and customer-oriented, the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) has replaced its paper-based application process for initial licensure for nurses with a new online portal.
"To ensure that we retain and attract top-notch healthcare providers to Rhode Island, it is essential that we create a licensing environment that moves at the speed of business," said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. "By streamlining our process in this way, we will also be reducing costs and improving the quality of service by freeing up staff to assist potential licensees who have specific issues with their applications."
The change in RIDOH's system for initial licensure for nurses was undertaken as a part of Rhode Island's "Lean Government Initiative." In April, 2015, Governor Gina M. Raimondo signed an Executive Order creating the initiative to foster innovation and promote a culture of continuous improvement. Lean is a business process improvement method that leads to the elimination of waste while focusing on added value and efficiency.
RIDOH began piloting the new system for initial licensure for nurses in mid-April 2016. A nurse applicant can now create a personal account and check on the status of his or her application. Once an application is approved, an e-mail notification goes to the applicant with a certificate-sized copy of his or her license, along with a wallet-sized version.
"Our Community College of Rhode Island nursing graduates now have the opportunity to complete their initial application for licensure as a Registered Nurse online," said Hilary Jansson, PhD, RN, Interim Assistant Dean, Nurse Education, Community College of Rhode Island. "We are pleased that the Rhode Island Department of Health is utilizing technology to facilitate the entrance of nursing graduates into the healthcare workforce."
Within RIDOH's Center for Professional Licensing, which is part of the Division of Customer Services at the Department, the process for initial licensure for nurses was the first to be streamlined through the Lean Initiative because of the high volume of applications received. However, RIDOH is working to make services more efficient and effective throughout the Center for Professional Licensing, the Division of Customer Services, and the entire Department. An RIDOH Customer Service Improvement Strategy has been developed to ensure the efficient, courteous, and clear delivery of public health services to Rhode Islanders, with a focus on quality and safety. Examples include:
• Conducting surveys with food business owners to learn how food inspectors can better help owners create safe, healthy environments for their customers and employees; • Streamlining the application review process to improve the customer experience when a retail food business applies for a license, and streamlining the investigations process for restaurants, all in the Center for Food Protection; • Establishing a Training Officer to centralize and enhance the training provided to owners and operators of public water systems; and • Ensuring an efficient, effective, and responsive complaint and investigations system for professional license holders and healthcare facilities.
More information about Rhode Island's Lean Initiative is available online.