“Hiring” a “Staffing Agency” versus “Partnering” with your “Service Provider”
When considering what service provider to use due diligence is always indicated. Whether you have had a long standing relationship with a provider or are seeking a provider for the first time it is always in the best interest of your organization to go through the process of making comparisons. This can be done by sending out a Request for Proposal (RFP) or by inviting each company in to make a presentation. Any company that is serious about competing for your business will make a free sales call or presentation if given the opportunity. Meeting one another provides the opportunity to associate a face with a name. It also provides you the opportunity to ask questions. Your key decision makers all have questions pertinent to their area of responsibility so a face to face meeting gives everyone the opportunity to address their concerns.
All service providers focus on staffing and providing you with the correct personnel. But there are many other aspects of integrating an Alternative Workforce into your organization with detailed accuracy. Meeting Department of Health and Joint Commission requirements are paramount not only in having qualified staff but orientation, computer training, badging, personnel files as well as a wealth of other details.
Your service provider should be seeking meetings with all affected department heads just for staffing purposes alone. A detailed Needs Analysis should include all pertinent information required to recruit the right person for each position. For example: what software platform are you operating on, what brand and model equipment does each unit use, what type of pumps, defib, monitors, PCA’s, etc. What types of patients are received on the unit and what besides a license is required? Certifications such as BLA, ACLA, PALS, TNCC, NBR, Chemo Cert, Stroke Cert, and any others need to be included in the Needs Analysis in order to recruit appropriately.
If you have an existing plan that has worked well in the past then perhaps you only need a staffing vendor. If you have not engaged a company who also provides a full compliment of strike related services you will need to look further. It isn’t just about staffing. You need to consider whether other vendors will cross picket lines, where and how will cross docking be accomplished to ensure supply lines remain functional, does your internal security or your external provider possess expertise in strike line management in accordance with NLRB law, transportation to and from off site parking for non bargaining unit employees to name a few. UPS, FED EX and the US Mail normally do not cross picket lines and an alternative plan must include who will contact all service providers and when will that occur.
Once you have selected a service provider it is extremely important to establish your expectations of that provider and your provider also needs to establish expectations from you as a client. By defining these roles and services early in the process you eliminate any gray areas and also will avoid last minute anxieties. These expectations should be clearly defined in the executed contract and any changes should be agreed upon by contract addendum no matter how minor they may seem.
Just as each healthcare provider is unique to its population and services rendered each service provider is also unique in its operating model. Your service provider should take the time to explain in a very transparent manner the challenges they are faced with. Providing services in various geographical locations can be a challenge just in getting the workforce on site, housed and prepped for orientation and engagement once the strike starts. Licensing varies from state to state. There is a long laundry list of items to consider and address jointly so there are no surprises. The more you know about how your service provider operates the better you will be able to mould both organizations together for the best possible outcome.
With today’s technology there is no reason for your service provider not to be able to share data through the recruiting and credentialing process. Timelines should be established regarding the sharing of recruiting reports, scheduling of personnel, file status, difficult to fill positions and any other items that may require an alteration in your plan as you continue to approach the initiation of a strike.
Establishing a primary Point of Contact between your organization and your service provider is paramount. Having a single conduit for information exchange is important but most importantly these two key persons will need to establish a good working relationship. There will be numerous times when answers to key items both major and minor must be addressed promptly regardless of the hour and in a positive manner to keep operations moving forward, especially when deployment begins.
Relationships are forged and taking the time to form a partnership with your service provider will provide you with the best outcome for your organization whether it is a strike, natural disaster terrorist threat or any other occurrence that impacts your employees and your ability to provide uninterrupted services.
Crisis Management Consultant
Senior Director – Healthcare Services Division
Huffmaster Crisis Response