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Public Registry Best Practices for Regulatory Bodies – Part 1

What should a public registry look like?

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years of implementing association management software for regulatory bodies, it’s that no one does things exactly the same – and the Public Register (also known as Public Registry or Registrant Directory) is no exception. The public register is the set of pages that allows the public to search for practitioners and review information about them.

The design of a public registry is often varied for many reasons, but topping that list is legislation.  Provincial and federal legislation or and/or College bylaws will determine a lot of what has to be displayed (or not displayed) to the public.

In this 2 part post post, we’ll examine a few public registers in use by regulatory bodies and in part 2, we’ll take a sneak peek at the next generation of public register Alinity.

What is a Public Register used for?

First – let’s quickly talk about what the public registry is used for – that often helps decide what information needs to be displayed to the public.

  1. Allows a member of the public to confirm that a practitioner they’re about to see is licensed and to find out any information about them that they should be concerned about – like conditions on their license, discipline actions against them or lapsed license.
  2. Allow the public to search for a licensed member in their area – essentially to shop for a practitioner.
  3. Let employers confirm that an employee is licensed or that on the first day of a new license year that their employees are all valid.
  4. Finally, to give insurance companies a way to verify that the practitioner who performed an insurable service is in fact registered by the regulatory body.

If you keep these requirements (and any others you might have) in mind, then you’ll have the right level of details for your registry.

What’s it look like?

Usually, a public register is divided into two sections – the search and results page (what criteria the public can search by) and the details page where additional details are displayed about the member. Often, the goal should be to show the user 80% of the data on the results page if you can. The idea is to give the users enough information so that 80% of uses don’t even need to go to the detailed view.

The remaining 20% are doing detailed review and need the additional page.

So, with those scenarios in mind, let’s look at some public registries to see what they’re doing.

The List

One option is to just publish a list of your registrants. It may be one big page, or may be a series of pages with 20 or 30 members per page. It can be a very simple and effective approach if you have a small number of members, however it’s not something that the public is used to these days – searching is a feature that the public just expects on a website.

It does have drawbacks if you have a larger number because you’re forcing the public to sift through a long list.  Another drawback is that you’re publishing a full list of your registrants that anyone can come along and copy/paste that data.

Medium Details

The next level – medium details – is a page that allows the public to search for a member by name or registration number.

The search results shows just enough information for the majority of users to be able to get the details they need right here – including registration number, current registration and if any conditions exist.

The actual conditions are never displayed to the public – if the user wants to find out that information, they are directed to call the College in a footnote at the bottom.

If a registrant has renewed their license, but that new license has not taken effect yet, then it is displayed in the Future Registration column – to help employers know that the member will be licensed.

For a little more detail, including where the registrant works, the public can click on “View Details” to see more information.  Many regulatory bodies will not show employment information publicly – it usually depends on if the profession you regulate is often involved in services direct to the public or if those services are provided through provincial or state institutions.  For instance, nurses will often not provide employment information whereas dentists, chiropractors and massage therapists often work in private practice and so will show that information to the public.  Your association management software should allow you to have control over what is displayed.

In part 2, we’ll talk about the next generation of association management software and how it can be configured.  We’ll also talk a little about another regulatory body in Ontario that is required to display much more data.

Association Management Software

The right association management software allows you to display the right level of detail to the public as required by local, provincial and federal laws as well as your own by-laws. If you’re considering setting up a public registry for your members – keep these options in mind as you decide what to show the public.

Thinking about a new association management system for your regulatory body? Checkout our Software Procurement Guide below!