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Time to examine your healthcare staffing companies

In past posts we have discussed how effective temporary staffing can be at improving the quality of care, reducing costs and improving revenue at your hospital or healthcare facility if it is viewed as and made part of your overall staffing plan, rather than a last resort.

One aspect of this plan should be a formal vendor review process where you can rate the effectiveness of the staffing vendors your hospital works with. After all if you are not measuring it, how do you know how well or poorly it is meeting your needs?

Implementing this process, whether you work with many travel nursing companies, just a few or with a VMS will help you answer questions regarding the staffing companies’ quality, cost and efficiency. And help you make changes that maximize this resource for you.

A benefit of having this process in place, which we will discuss later in this post, is that it gives the healthcare staffing companies you work with an upfront set of expectations you believe they should meet and creates an equal playing field for all to start on.

There are some basic things you will want to keep in mind as you build your Staffing Vendor Evaluation Program:

  • You need to build a system that allows smaller providers to be represented fairly alongside larger ones
  • You should include both qualitative discussions about the candidates and quantitative measurement tools about the staffing company
  • You will want to include a tool that measures the overall quality of the healthcare staffing companies

To put this plan in place for your hospital, skilled nursing facility or ambulatory care center, let’s take a look at these three areas.

How do you build a system that allows small providers to compete with the larger ones?
This can be accomplished by looking not at how many submittals a company provides but what is their rate of success. You can determine this by first establishing a baseline level of success your hospital expects from a healthcare staffing company. So if you believe that one out of every eight candidates should be interviewed and one out of every 20 candidate submitted should be placed for larger staffing companies, then it would be reasonable to expect that same rate of success from a smaller travel nursing company, just at a smaller scale.

How do you measure quality of candidates?
This is where great internal communication at your hospital or healthcare facility comes into play. If you are at a smaller to midsized hospital where you are both the hiring manager and nurse manager working with the contingent nurse or therapist then this is simple as asking yourself how well they worked out, would you hire them again, etc. However if you are at a larger hospital with a hiring manager responsible for hiring for many different units you will want to make sure you have a formal process in place that includes both a standard list of questions or survey that gauge performance that the manager completes and a direct feedback session between the department using the staff and the hiring professional.

How do you evaluate the overall quality of the staffing company?
This should happen during some sort of set direct feedback meeting and be at least quarterly meeting where you evaluate the companies you are working with and determining their status for the next quarter. Whatever the schedule is, during the meeting and evaluation process should be a thorough evaluation of the travel healthcare companies or VMS you are working with that looks at them from a holistic view and evaluates them based on a set list of criteria that includes items like:

  • Bill Rates – This measures how competitive they are in comparison to their competitors and in relation to their quality
  • Fill Rate – This looks at how many jobs they fill versus the number of chances they have to fill them
  • Candidate Quality – This should be completed by the unit manager and looks at the overall quality of the candidates submitted
  • On the Job Performance – This should be completed by the unit manager and looks at the ability of the past hired candidates to do the jobs they were hire for
  • Time to Fill – This evaluates the speed a healthcare staffing company or VMS can fill your open positions
  • Response Rate – This is the number of requests for staff by your hospital divided by the responses the company provides
  • Number of Submittals – This is a measure of how many nurse resumes did they send in for each open job
  • Accounts Receivable – This is looking at how fast invoices are received from the travel nursing company or VMS

By using all these variables in a scorecard type of format you will make sure you don’t have tunnel vision on the value of one company over another. For example, from a hiring manager’s point of view this can help avoid focusing on one vendor who may be easy to work with, but provides bad candidates. Or from a nurse managers point of view it can prevent falling in love with a company that provides great candidates, but takes forever to fill needs and is even slower to bill you. By aggregating all these scored categories in one area you will get a complete view of the healthcare staffing companies you are working with and give yourself a starting point to improve them.

How can you use this scorecard to improve the healthcare staffing companies you work with you ask. Simply share the information with them, both before you work with and after each evaluation. Most, the good ones anyway, want to improve their service to your hospital, so sharing their results with them gives them a snapshot of their performance for your hospital and alerts them to areas to improve on. This will only improve the quality of your relationship as well as saving you money.

The next step is to formalize the follow up of this process. After you share a healthcare vendors score with them you should designate a reasonable time-frame for them to improve on their score, however if no improvement is made you need to add that vendor to a Do Not Use List. This is where this process will save you time and money in the long run.

What about you? What type of evaluations tools do you use?