Are the companies you work with vendors or partners?

By Bob Reardon, CEO, ISG  –  published in WorkCompWire May 30, 2023

Claims organizations outsource services to help them achieve the best clinical and financial outcomes. Often, these relationships are framed as a vendor-client dynamic, yet the companies that have the most successful outcomes have shifted their mindset toward treating these companies as partners rather than vendors.

A partner-oriented approach encourages open communication, mutual respect and a shared sense of purpose. Collaboration leads to increased innovation, efficiency and the ability to tackle complex challenges together. Rather than simply receiving services, claims organizations can tap into the expertise and unique perspectives of their partners to drive collective success. As partners, you can each invest in the success of the relationship, fostering loyalty and stability.

Most “vendors” in this industry want to be “partners.” When you shift to working with strategic partners, here is what you should expect:

Reduced spend. Within our industry, the pendulum is once again swinging to bundling more services. When you invest time in the relationship, your strategic partner will understand the levers that run your business and will work with you to reduce spend wherever possible. By narrowing down your provider panels and giving a limited number of partners more business, claims organizations can yield better pricing and increase quality as you gain more professional resources who understand the aspects of your business that will produce the best results.

Increased integrations. One goal for every strategic partner you work with should be removing touchpoints from your adjusters’ hands and automating as much of the claims process as possible. Look for partners who can provide multiple services well and who want to integrate directly with your claims system instead of only offering connectivity through a portal. If the partner uses proprietary software, it’s even better as they are solely in control of the timing and output of system modifications and software development that can help you become more efficient.

Better Outcomes Reporting. How do you measure your partner’s performance? Are they providing strategic versus tactical reporting? A strategic partner should provide insights and actionable recommendations that drive informed decision-making. Your partner’s strategic reporting should take a holistic view, considering the broader business context and future implications of the data presented.

Transparency. Each of the partners you work with should be transparent in their ownership structure. As market consolidation continues, more companies are going to market under individual sub-brands rather than through their parent company. This creates confusion, especially when it comes to panel development. Make sure you don’t unintentionally have multiple providers on your panel that share the same parent company.

Tips for Cultivating Partnership Relationships:

  • Foster open and transparent communication channels.
  • Seek mutual understanding and shared objectives.
  • Invest time in building relationships and trust.
  • Encourage collaboration and knowledge sharing.
  • Provide opportunities for joint problem-solving and decision-making.
  • Regularly review and evaluate the partnership’s progress and adjust strategies if necessary.

Adopting a partnership mindset when working with external companies can transform vendor-client relationships into collaborative and value-driven partnerships. Nurturing these partnerships requires effort and a commitment to mutual growth, but the benefits extend far beyond short-term transactions.

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