What Is the Difference Between Provider Credentialing and Provider Enrollment?

In the healthcare industry, provider credentialing and enrollment are two processes that can be misunderstood or used interchangeably. While both processes are required for healthcare providers to work with insurance companies and receive reimbursements, they are separate processes with distinct differences. Here are the major differences between the two and tips for improving each process:

Major Differences Between Provider Credentialing and Provider Enrollment


Provider credentialing is the verification of the professional qualifications of healthcare practitioners through primary source verification. Primary source verification means that the credentials of the healthcare practitioner are verified directly with the accrediting agency or licensing board.

Credentialing is a prerequisite for joining a particular practice or becoming involved in a medical center’s insurance panels. A credential indicates a doctor’s qualifications and legal right to practice a specialty or profession.

Provider enrollment refers to the process of enrolling a healthcare provider with an insurance company. Enrollment is required to get paid by insurance companies for healthcare services to patients who carry insurance coverage from those companies.


Credentialing requires healthcare practitioners to submit their educational, professional, and work experience credentials for verification. They should also undergo a background check and provide proof of state licensing. 

Provider enrollment requires healthcare practices to provide their tax identification number, license, and certifications. They should also submit malpractice insurance and bank account information. The healthcare practice should also submit a provider agreement or contract with the insurance company.


Credentialing is a one-time process. Once the verification process is complete, the healthcare practitioner is credentialed and may not have to pay additional fees.

Provider enrollment is an ongoing process. It usually requires the healthcare practice to pay a fee each time it enrolls a new practitioner with an insurance company. The fees can vary by company but are typically paid on an annual basis.


Credentialing is done before a provider can enroll with an insurance company, while enrollment involves joining a program or network. Credentialing may take a few weeks or months, based on the intricacy of the provider’s background check.

It can also be based on the number of protocols that need to be followed. Enrollment may require providers to submit their credentialing information to the insurance companies or payers to become part of their provider networks.

Information Required

Credentialing requires comprehensive information about the provider’s education, licensure, training, employment history, and other professional qualifications.

Provider enrollment involves submitting basic personal and contact information. It includes name, address, and specialty, to insurance companies or payers to become part of their networks.

The specific information requirements for credentialing and enrollment may vary depending on the insurance companies, payers, or regulatory agencies involved.


Credentialing gives qualified and competent healthcare providers the privilege of practicing a certain medical specialty. This process helps protect patients from harm and improves the quality of care they receive.

Provider enrollment verifies that healthcare providers are reimbursed for services they provide to patients. It confirms that healthcare providers have the financial resources they need to provide care and maintain their practices.

Tips for Improving the Process of Credentialing and Enrollment

Establish a Streamlined Process

This process should clearly define the steps to be followed and the timeframes for each step. It should also define the roles and responsibilities of each team member involved in the process.

By creating a streamlined process, healthcare organizations can significantly reduce the time and resources required for provider credentialing and enrollment.

Utilize Technology

Healthcare providers and administrators should explore the use of technology to streamline the credentialing and enrollment process. Healthcare organizations can save time and resources by using automated solutions.

They can verify credentials, licenses, and certifications with higher accuracy and speed. Electronic provider enrollment systems can also help keep all provider information up-to-date. They verify that all necessary documentation is complete, reducing delays in the process.

Conduct Regular Audits

Regular audits of provider credentialing and enrollment can help identify bottlenecks, streamline workflow, and identify areas for improvement. A comprehensive audit can also identify errors and discrepancies that can cause delays in the process.

This can lead to providers not being enrolled or able to work with insurance payers. By conducting audits regularly, healthcare organizations can keep the provider credentialing and enrollment process running effectively.

Utilize a Credentialing and Enrollment Management System

This can help automate the full process to provide a complete solution for all enrollment needs. Utilizing a provider management system can reduce the amount of manual processing involved in the enrollment process, reducing errors and delays.

Invest in Training and Development

Training can help teams understand the complex and ever-changing credentialing and enrollment rules and regulations. With training, staff members can make sure that all regulations are followed correctly and that patients receive the highest quality care possible.

Choosing Provider Credentialing and Provider Enrollment

Provider credentialing and provider enrollment are two processes that are significant for confirming that healthcare providers can practice, receive proper reimbursement, and deliver quality care to patients.

While both processes share some similarities, they are unique regarding their process, frequency, and outcomes. By understanding these differences, providers and administrators can better navigate the complex healthcare environment.