Several years ago, the healthcare industry followed the trend of other industries as acute care facilities began consolidating their purchasing processes. One of the most difficult segments in this consolidation was the myriad providers of contract labor. Unlike commodities such as durable medical equipment, these services were provided by humans, and no two were exactly alike! Systems had to be developed to accumulate and manage individual criteria for both competency and regulatory compliance. Rather than negotiate each vendor for price and minimum standards, it was more reasonable to centralize the process via a third party.
Because vendor management systems had been around for years in other industries, existing VMS providers advanced the initial offerings. It didn’t take long for healthcare staffing companies to recognize that there were distinct advantages in having their own VMS, and several made the investment in technology to provide their own VMS system. As these systems proliferated, hospitals began to ask a very basic question: “Are these vendor-sponsored VMS systems dedicated to the needs of the hospital, or dedicated to the needs of the vendor?” In other words, “Is the fox guarding the henhouse?”
These questions or concerns can easily be addressed if the VMS provider is putting the facility’s needs first. A facility needs the maximum exposure to the best quality personnel without regard to employer. The client is also best served when choice becomes a viable option. When finding a personnel match, a close fit is just not good enough if an exact fit is available. The client needs are only best served when the presentation of personnel is transparent, and the intermediary handles only general vetting of candidates. It may seem that transparent vetting of candidates is not in the best interest of the vendor/VMS, but anything less will create distrust and problems in the relationship.