To Participate or Not
Bob Livonius of AMN Healthcare Services Inc. and Melissa Byington of CompHealth write about their views of VMS/MSP in the locum tenens space.
MSP/VMS dramatically simplify the chaos of dealing with dozens of locums vendors
By Bob Livonius
What do Computerland, Blockbuster, Montgomery Ward and many tenured healthcare staffing companies have in common? They lost touch with the needs of their clients. Their products and services remained in demand, but delivery of those products and services underwent disruptive change, and these companies didn’t embrace the transformation.
These companies probably voiced similar assertions to those repeatedly voiced about managed services programs (MSP) and vendor management systems (VMS) in locum tenens: “We will never take part in an MSP”; or “VMS will never work in healthcare. Doomed to fail, period.”
As it turns out, MSP/VMS are working very well in healthcare, just as they have in other industries for decades. Approximately 30 percent of healthcare providers currently utilize MSP and VMS, with another 20 percent planning to implement these services in the next couple of years.
This growth is not hard to understand — if you look through the clients’ eyes. MSP/VMS dramatically simplify the chaos of dealing with dozens of locums vendors, while enforcing uniform quality standards. As the number of locum agencies has exploded, healthcare managers and clinicians are now inundated by a sales and marketing tsunami, which frustrates everybody and creates disarray as more firms battle over dwindling supply to fill growing demand. MSP/VMS end the chaos through “one and done”: One partner managing all staffing vendors.
Finally, and contrary to the assertions of some staffing agencies, vendors that affiliate with an MSP can realize greater revenues by eliminating sales commissions, speeding up collections, protecting existing business and obtaining incremental business.
Efficiency always wins in the end. The history of commerce is built upon disruptive innovations that change the game for clients — and littered with enterprises that ignored change and became irrelevant.
Bob Livonius is president, strategic workforce solutions, at AMN Healthcare Services Inc.
No, MSP/VMS programs demonstrate poor service
By Melissa Byington
Over the past 17 years, I’ve watched my company and the locum tenens industry get smarter, faster and better at placing physicians. Though technology has played an important role in these improvements, the best locums companies know their obligation to help clients deliver patient care goes far beyond what is listed on a job description or found in a database.
At CHG Healthcare Services, we ask our clients what they expect from a locums company and the feedback is always the same: service, deliverability and quality. Experience and data suggest that MSP/VMS programs perform poorly in all of these areas. That’s why CHG, like several other large staffing companies, chooses not to participate with MSP/VMS for our locums business.
Let me explain our concerns with the MSP/VMS model:
- Lower service scores. MSP/VMS net-promoter scores indicate a very low satisfaction rate, with more than 90 percent of clients reporting dissatisfaction with their service. Conversely, only 7 percent of clients express dissatisfaction with our direct staffing model.
- Decreased deliverability. Additional points of contact created by the MSP/VMS model often result in a communication bottleneck. When communication lags, so does deliverability. Physicians and clients become frustrated by the extended timelines and staffing firms send their best candidates to facilities where direct relationships exist. From a deliverability perspective, working through a MSP/VMS is a move in the wrong direction for our customers.
- Compromised quality. High-risk situations require the ability to connect immediately with clients and directly represent physicians. In an MSP/VMS model, relationships between the staffing firm and client are contractually severed, making it unclear where risk and accountability ultimately lie.
We deliver based on our customers’ priorities. Until we see MSP/VMS programs demonstrate better service, deliverability and quality, we will continue to work directly with the doctors and clients we serve.
Melissa Byington is president of the locum tenens division of CompHealth.