So you’ve just received your first request for proposal (RFP) from a healthcare facility…and you probably have at least a few questions. What does that mean? What do you do now? How should you respond?
While an RFP may seem like another hoop to jump through before being able to provide patient care, it’s an important part of a structured and transparent procurement process for anesthesia providers.
Supply and demand in the healthcare field are changing. Hospitals and healthcare facilities are looking more frequently for ‘partners’ in patient care, and not just vendors providing a service. An RFP is an opportunity to re-evaluate your anesthesia group’s relationship with healthcare facilities in order to establish the most mutually beneficial arrangement.
Here’s what you need to know to make handling and benefiting from RFP’s a part of your routine.
Introduction to RFPs: What They Are and Why It Matters
A request for proposal is a document that defines the plans for a specific project that the hospital or healthcare facility plans to undertake. It will include questions as to how your anesthesia practice can cover the needs of the facility, as well as details as to how your proposal will be evaluated and by whom.
The RFP is an important document as it helps define the nature of your group’s working relationship with your healthcare facility. Hospitals or healthcare facilities issue these to multiple anesthesia providers in order to find the best, most strategic partnership, while also ensuring fair competition.
Transparency in the RFP process is good for your future relationship with your healthcare facility. You will know upfront how this relationship will impact your cash flow and, therefore, operational efficiency.
When you receive the RFP, it should have several parts:
- Project Description:
- This should include an overview of the healthcare facility along with the logistical details like the number of operating rooms or number of physicians. This description should also include information like local healthcare trends where the practice is located and any major information like upcoming expansions or other issues impacting budget.
- Overview of Contact
- This is a summary that will define the legal and financial details of your working relationship with the healthcare facility.
- Evaluation Factors
- This should include a rubric by which your proposal will be measured, including who will be reviewing your proposal.
- Proposal Requirements
- This is a list of all the sections you should include in your proposal, in addition to answering all questions posed in the project description.
- Submittal Requirements
- This should include a timeline and selection schedule so that all parties stay on track.
Ideally, the RFP is written in a clear and unambiguous manner, so you know exactly what the work entails and what you need to do to begin responding to it.
How RFPs Help the Anesthesiology Industry
Anesthesia providers are in high demand, and trends indicate that they will remain so for the next few years. While RFPs may seem like an annoyance, they are a good indicator of what you are getting into as an anesthesia provider.
Oftentimes, an anesthesia provider’s relationship with its hospital is non-collaborative. Challenges in the field of anesthesiology, including staff shortages, an aging patient population, and fluctuating Medicare reimbursements seem prone to complicate this relationship.
Anesthesia providers are paramount to the successful functioning of hospitals and healthcare facilities, though, as anesthesia services are needed in almost every part of the hospital, from operating rooms, to labor and delivery, and radiology.
The dynamic nature of the healthcare environment demands highly skilled and well-trained anesthesiologists to meet these diverse needs. So, the health of an anesthesia provider’s relationship with its hospital is oftentimes an indicator of the health of its patients.
Benefits of Using RFPS for Anesthesia Providers
While healthcare facilities will be evaluating your practice, this is also your opportunity to evaluate your potential healthcare facilities.
A thorough RFP from a healthcare facility will lead to informed decision-making regarding your anesthesia practice’s resources. Will you need to stock more to handle a higher volume? Will you be able to support multiple health facilities at once and, if so, can you provide adequate staffing?
This is also your chance to assess the quality of the healthcare facility. Will they be providing safe situations for your staff that will improve anesthesia services?
Additionally, RFPs can help you review your business internally. Will you be billing through the healthcare facility for your services or separately?
Finally, RFPs can let you know whether your administrative and billing fees are appropriate. Measuring markups by hospitals or major healthcare facilities can help you decide whether your practice needs to adjust your prices to adequately cover costs. A favorable answer to all these questions leads to better patient outcomes and a positive working relationship with a healthcare facility.
Best Practices for Crafting Your Proposal
Your proposal - your response to the RFP- isn’t something that can be written in a single afternoon.
It’s important to integrate pre-qualification processes, such as site visits and interviews with key stakeholders into the creation of your proposal. Seeing the size of a hospital on paper and in person are two completely different situations. This preliminary work is crucial to creating an effective proposal.
The most successful proposals are clear, well-written, and usually include variations on the following:
- Company Summary
- This outlines the history, mission, values, visions, and executive board/leadership of the company. You may also include statistics on successful patient outcomes as well as any accolades your group has received.
- Statement of Work
- This is where you answer the questions posed in the RFP, in paragraph form, and lay out your plan for fulfilling the healthcare facility’s needs. How will your anesthesia group stand apart from the rest?
- Quality Assurance Plan
- This is where you can include concrete metrics that will track your group’s success at executing on this proposal. You can lay out how you will monitor these throughout your contract with the hospital or health facility.
- Estimated Cost
- Your estimated costs should be clear and calculated correctly. This is a good place in your proposal to use charts to break down your expenses, including billing, credentialing, and administrative fees. Transparency is helpful here!
As an anesthesia provider, you can leverage multiple RFPs from a diverse array of healthcare facilities as a tool for optimizing cost and mitigating risks through vendor selection. Better outcomes for you mean better outcomes for healthcare facilities which, ultimately, leads to better patient outcomes (which is really the whole point).
Don’t get stuck in complacency in your working relationship! A little bit of work when evaluating RFPs means a better solution for all.