Since Ford Motor Company ingeniously determined a more efficient means to manage both horizontal and vertical supply chain logistics decades ago, the technology has moved into most areas of the healthcare arena.
For the uninitiated, managing multiple vendors for a product or service has a straightforward objective; maximizing access to a defined standard of products or services in the most efficient, and cost conscious means possible.
Due to the large number of suppliers that are involved in the manufacture of an automobile, it follows that this industry would be one of the first to develop systems to manage multiple vendors with multiple product offerings more effectively. From wiring harnesses to leather upholstery, the final product in automotive assembly is an extensive patchwork of vendors providing the necessary products for a finished product.
Turning to the healthcare sector, the demand for human capital is similar, but with a few more twists and turns along the way. Consider the necessity to engage just one candidate in a hospital setting. Prior to accepting any candidate engaged in the care of patients either directly or indirectly, a laundry list of credentials must be presented. As a protection for patients, the Joint Commission, a not-for-profit entity tasked with quality compliance, requires certain criteria be verified prior to acceptance of any candidate providing care. Due to significant taxpayer dollars flowing into most acute-care facilities, the Joint Commission serves as somewhat of a “watchdog” to assure public funds are being used for the conscientious care of the public. These requirements are typically generic to the function of the caregiver, but include time-sensitive items such as professional licensure and vaccination status. Depending on the specialized nature of the candidate, many other credentials may be required by the facility. Finally, add the variables of work-days, shift times, rates of pay, stipends, overtime rules, holiday pay, orientations, etc., and you have the ingredients for a very complicated mix that must be monitored and managed.
But wait. As if managing all these items were not enough, another level of monitoring is required! Each candidate that is presented is done so through a third party, (agency), and each of those “agents” that represent the candidate must also conform to certain guidelines in the placement of the caregiver or professional. Items such as liability coverage, workers compensation, and valid contractual agreements must be in place.
This brings us back to the aforementioned objective of any vendor management solution; “…maximizing access to a defined standard of products or services in the most efficient, and cost conscious means possible.” If proper filters have been established for both the agencies and candidates, the outputs should properly reflect candidates that have met all standards.
This leads us to two conclusions; first, the level of quality expected from the candidates of any vendor management system will be directly tied to the internal “filters” that have been integrated or customized for the client, and second, with properly established filters, to obtain the greatest number of qualified candidates requires the greatest number of qualified “feeders,” or agencies in the system.
With the advent of the Affordable Care Act, several million more patients are likely to be dumped into the system. The most likely result will be the “stretching” of professional boundaries to allow for more care to be pushed downward into areas previously reserved for physicians. As this likelihood unfolds, the ability of a vendor management system to accurately filter all possible uses of available human capital will be more valuable than ever.