Case Study 

Department of Health Professionals - Health Professional Data Services


Business Case

Prior to automating access to the Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP) database via the Internet, DHP IT staff would internally fulfill requests for this information and outsource the billing.  Any health board’s office could receive a letter, a facsimile, or phone request for the information and would then forward the request to the IT division of the Department of Health Professions.  The IT staff would run tapes or labels and then mail the static, consumable information to the requesting entity.  A great deal of the IT division’s time was expended in providing this service.  The turnaround on such service could be as much as three days, not including delivery of the information through the U. S. Postal Service.  Businesses making the requests could only do so during the health boards’ office hours.  If a business purchased labels, each time the labels were used and more were needed; the IT staff was required to repeat the fulfillment process.

DHP’s cost analysis also included the costs of administering and managing customer billing for queries.  Those costs include the staff time and information technology resources necessary to track query requests, generate and mail data request bills, and collect unpaid accounts.  DHP also would be required to prepare printed and electronic accounting summaries of the query service for auditing purposes.

By Web enabling this service, DHP IT staff was able to reallocate the time spent on such requests to better serving their constituents and pursuing the agency’s internal goals for implementing additional electronic services.  The board staffs responsible for taking phone, mail, or facsimile requests are now receiving fewer calls, mailed and facsimile requests and are able to reallocate their time as well.  The Web-based service is available to users twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week providing data in usable file formats that can be easily manipulated for a variety of purposes.

The Solution

The Virginia Department of Health Professions (DHP), and Virginia Interactive (VI), partnered to offer two online services that utilize DHP’s health professions information database.  These services have been steadily providing value and service for citizens and businesses since January 15, 2001.  

Under the VI funding model, one service provides fee-based access for businesses to an enhanced database search and retrieval service for marketing-related purposes.  The funding from this online DHP Health Professional Data Service, in turn, funds a free public service, the Licensee Lookup, that is available to citizens wanting to verify the license and/or disciplinary status of a health professional. 

The free online Licensee Lookup allows citizens to conduct a search of a specific health professional verifying that he/she is truly licensed and in good standing with the applicable health professions board.  Additionally, this system allows Virginians new to an area or in need of a new health professional to use the search feature to find the locations of all related health professionals within a selected zip code region.  The search’s return will display the license number, name of the health professional, address of record, initial license date, license expiration date, and if the professional has been subject to a disciplinary proceeding within the past fifteen years.  This service also is useful to potential employers of health professionals who may, for example, want to verify the health professional’s license status immediately. 

The DHP Health Professional Data Service enables businesses to search for and purchase licensee information in order to maintain current licensee status and address information for mailings and marketing-related contacts.  The return will display the license number, name of health professional, address of record, initial license date, license expiration date, and if the professional has been subject to a disciplinary proceeding within the past fifteen years.  The service conveniently offers this data in a variety of file formats including text, pipe-delimited, CSV, and Excel making the data easy to format into an internal database.  

Since the initial service implementation, two additional data services have been added for high-volume users such as hospital organizations, human resources services providers, or insurance companies that make thousands of inquiries on a daily basis. The License Verification service offers unlimited lookups of license status information and the Case Decision Notification service offers the ability to track the status of any health professional licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Updates regarding license renewal or expiration, notice of proceedings and/or case decisions are sent to the subscriber’s email address of choice daily.  

The Licensee Lookup service may be accessed at:  

DHP Health Professional Data Services are available at: 

The T​ools

  • Microsoft SQL Server 2008
  • PCI DSS Compliant
  • Uses 128 bit Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) Certificate
  • Meets National Automated Clearing House Association (NACHA) Standards
  • Compliant with Sarbanes Oxley, SAS 70 and CyberTrust Audits
  • In 2014, the user interface was updated to include a responsive design for mobile phone and tablet users

The ​Results

Citizens and businesses may check on the status of all health professionals twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week from their home or office, and are no longer confined to the office hours of each health board or the time that it would take to have a person verify a request manually.  Citizens may conduct as many searches as necessary to find any appropriate health care provider within a specified zip code. Businesses also may have the information provided in a format that will allow them to use it multiple times for a variety of purposes.  

The Department of Health Professions and all of the related boards were able to reallocate their time and resources toward other endeavors.   Prior to implementation of the online service, the Department and its boards received approximately 1,158 data requests each year that they were required to process.  For a minimum level search, the IT staff would need to spend no less than three hours of its time compiling the requested data, or more than 3,474 hours annually.  This meant that those significant staff hours were not being spent on the work required to run the day-to-day functions of the office.  

The online services have provided returns that are quite significant to Department of Health Professions in the time that the services have been available. Previously, DHP had paid an outside entity from $10,000 to $12,000 per month for staff to manage the billing process resulting in an annual cost ranging from $120,000 to $144,000. Payments and billing are now handled by Virginia Interactive eliminating the need for a costly outside billing service provider. 

Within the first five months the services were available, there were a minimum of 212 Online Professional Information Service queries.  Even by making the assumption that all of those queries were minimum level requests, the Department of Health Professions’ staff cost savings was at least $76,320.  There was also a cost savings of $50,000 to $60,000 in billing expenses for a total minimum dollar savings of $126,320 to $136,320.  

In the first year of operation, the online services created a minimum savings of 318 man-hours per month that would have been required to run queries for every request.  There is also the intangible savings of each of the boards’ staffs no longer having to take those phone calls, mailed requests, and facsimiles and spend time forwarding them to the IT department of the Department of Health Professions.   

The estimated annual cost savings to the Department of Health Professions in the first year of the services in production was between $378,960 to $408,960.  The estimated savings in man-hours was a minimum of 3,816 hours.

Since inception, the DHP Health Professionals Data Services License Database Download service has provided more than 730,000,000 records to subscribers.