Vendors to Hospitals: We’re Not Employees

November 11, 2010 at 8:10 pm Leave a comment

When The Joint Commission makes this observation about healthcare industry representatives, “Accredited health care organizations need to take steps to ensure patient rights are respected (RI.01.01.01), and that infection control precautions (IC.02.01.01) and other organization-specific policies and procedures are followed,” too many hospitals take the expedient route of slapping every employee requirement onto every rep.   If the hospital policy is that employees have immunizations, then reps are required to have immunizations.   If the hospital has an employee code of conduct, they require reps to sign the same code of conduct.

But hospitals undermine their own programs when they treat all vendors like employees in terms of credentials.  When vendors are asked to sign a policy that reads, “Employees of BEST HOSPITAL will not accept gifts or entertainment of any value from vendors,” the vendors infer that the hospital hasn’t given this much thought.  So this program isn’t really important.

Here are a couple of tips from our vendor council members to hospitals about policies and requirements.

1.  Start with your employee policies, but revise it to reflect my perspective.   Chances are my company has its own ethics statement.  If you want me to agree to something specific for you, write a statement that reflects the vendor/buyer relationship we have.  Don’t just hand me your employee statement.

2.  Reflect our relationship.  Where possible, only have requirements that make sense.   If I never come on site, you don’t need immunization information

3.  If you’re not sure, add “if applicable” to the policy.  That can help you cover the exception without making me feel like I’ve committed to something that doesn’t make sense.  For example, one Vendormate hospital uses this language, “I acknowledge that I have read and will comply with the ‘Recall Management Policy’ to the extent that it is applicable.” This policy is primarily intended for device vendors, but the recalls happen in every product category.

Vendors, even vendors in procedural areas, aren’t employees.   And the requirements for vendors need to take this into account. If hospitals want vendors to take their policies seriously, then hospitals have to put some thought into the process as well.

Entry filed under: best practices, vendor compliance, vendor credentials.

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