By Sean Ebner, President of Staff Care, AMN Healthcare
The Vendor Management Systems (VMS) model is one that automates the workflow of placing contingent healthcare professionals -- and its use within healthcare systems for Locum Tenens placement is increasing.
Not all VMS tools or programs are alike. Features and processes can vary based on the VMS tool, its configuration and the process behind it. Some clients take the features of a VMS tool and tag on supplementary service and support through an MSP (Managed Services Provider), which provides dedicated resources to facilitate the acceptance process, credentialing and on-assignment support.
Why VMS and MSP programs are becoming more popular?
From the healthcare organization perspective, it is difficult to deal with multiple agencies. It is often equally challenging for an agency to facilitate the process of getting a physician confirmed and scheduled. This is why healthcare organizations have asked -- even demanded -- a much more efficient way to manage staffing for Locums. The merit is quite simple. All of the activities of trying to manage a myriad of vendors, the highly complex environment of credentialing as well as scheduling is time and resources away from other critical missions. Healthcare organizations want the benefits that come with partnering with dozens of agencies, just not the hassle of managing those relationships individually. This is why the VMS and MSP solutions have been so well-received – it’s exactly what they’ve been asking for. They provide accountability for excellence, improve speed to fill critical needs and leverage dozens of vendors -- as well as quality controls and reporting.
Staff Care made the decision to enroll in well-constructed and managed VMS and MSP programs nationwide. Some of these are managed directly by the healthcare organization, others by third parties. These programs allow us to focus on placing our physicians and reduce stress around the onboarding process, therefore making it more efficient for the healthcare organization, the locum tenens agency and the provider. The locum tenens agency retains the ability to negotiate rates outside the range when circumstances require.
Legal protection for physicians
There is some concern in the marketplace regarding the event of a potential medical malpractice situation, and that the VMS or MSP model would somehow increase exposure for the clinician. There is no merit to this. In fact, the opposite is true. Well-conceived programs have explicit medical malpractice requirements and the program enforces strict compliance. This is favorable for the physician, the healthcare organization, staffing agency and the patient.
For Staff Care specifically, we provide our physicians -- and advanced practitioners -- a Precautionary Notice Form with information on whom to contact should an adverse event occur while they are on assignment. In addition, Staff Care provides for professional liability insurance coverage, representation by an experienced medical malpractice defense attorney and coordination of future legal developments.
VMS and other innovative workforce solutions are simply the future arriving to the healthcare community. These approaches have been widely used in virtually every category of contingent professional services for over a decade. The most innovative companies have been managing their workforces strategically using VMS or MSP concepts to successfully improve quality and manage employee expense in line with demand for services. We fully expect the most innovative healthcare systems to apply these best practices with VMS/MSP programs, and for this community of innovators to grow and benefit thereby.