Successfully navigate the OH procurement minefield

Medigold Health’s Commercial Director, Tom Butcher, has worked in the Corporate Healthcare industry for over 10 years, leaving him well-versed on the challenges and pitfalls that come with buying (and selling) these services.

Check out his 5 fundamentals for successfully buying Occupational Health & Wellbeing Services for your organisation…

1. Do your research

Occupational Health & Wellbeing providers come in every shape and size, so its worth doing some research first to determine who might be a good fit, and who is definitely too small/big/specialist/weird to work with. A good way to do this without spending a day on Google is to talk to one of the industry bodies such as The Better Health at Work Alliance (www.bhwa.org.uk) or Commercial Occupational Health Providers Association (www.cohpa.co.uk) and get some advice tailored to your business; or if things aren’t too acrimonious, speak to your competitors.

2. Get your sponsorship

Nothing is worse than doing loads of legwork vetting suppliers only to have the project sidelined because of strategic changes in budgets or business priorities. Whilst this can’t be helped sometimes, more often than not is it due to a lack of executive sponsorship, that is, a Board member (or other decision makers) recognising the importance of your project and arguing it’s case with their peers when business priorities are being prioritised. Do this first, and you won’t face your innovative project fizzling out.

3. Tell them something they don’t know

Providers need to understand the ins and outs of your service usage, and a large part of this is found in the volumetric data you should be receiving/keeping (or at least be able to access!). Headcount by site, product usage, location usage, role types and prevailing legislation (good providers will know this anyway) are all important, but there are deeper metrics which can have a big impact on a providers ability to submit a thoroughly considered bid: Reoccurring cases, case reviews, outstanding Long Term Sick cases, clinical conditions, usage of Clinicians/Physiotherapists/Counsellors etc. will all add much-needed context to your basic statistics. Doing this will give providers a far better view of how the programme is operating currently, and ultimately what they can do to improve, enhance or streamline it. 

4. Smart procurement

It’s really important to remember that with Occupational Health & Wellbeing, you are buying professional services, not staplers. As a result of this, you, as the health & wellbeing advocate in your business, will need to stay close to procurement to ensure that your specification does not get boiled-down and commoditised to the point where it becomes unintelligent and blunted. Unit pricing is not always the best way to gauge net value, even in a financial sense (we’re talking scheduling efficiencies, product mix, case management techniques), so credit the provider with some scope for proposing the pricing model and you might be pleasantly surprised by what you get back. Use the face to face discussion stage to iron out any bumps between providers’ offerings.

5. Win-Win

Its a cliché, but a smart buyer will want their chosen provider to win, just as much as they do (or perhaps a teeny bit less). No one wants to work with an unprofitable/unsustainable company, and yet mature, and empathetic discussion around product margin, administrative burden and contractual risk is still very difficult to find. Occupational Health & Wellbeing is a particular challenge due to a number of operational, legislative and historical/market factors, but sob-stories aside, be prepared to listen to detailed, reasoned cases as to why your one-size-fits-all policy on supplier payment terms, may not work for this particular provider. Your pragmatism here may be the difference between securing the provider you actually wanted vs the only one you were ever going to get.

Author: Medigold Health

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