Culinary Best Practices Environmental Services Healthcare HHS Housekeeping Services Leadership

What Healthcare Administrators Need to Know When Choosing a Support Service Provider

By Brian Weed, HHS Managing Partner 

Brian Weed, HHS Managing Partner and Chief Growth Officer

Throughout my 25-year tenure working in facilities, environmental, and food services, and serving as a member of executive management within the support services industry, I have seen the monumental tasks healthcare administrators are faced with on a daily basis. They are responsible for effectively managing a facility and all its departments, while spending time recruiting highly qualified candidates, and meeting the productivity standards of the industry.  It is a challenge, and a lot rests on their shoulders to effectively manage all these aspects while making sure the hospital is continually achieving a high-level of quality service.

To reduce stress on the executive team, healthcare facilities often identify and determine where they can alleviate the pressure and develop new plans and strategies that will benefit the hospital overall. In most cases, the indicators point toward support services departments—whether that is culinary, environmental services, facilities, or linen management—as these areas support the clinical team. As such, hospitals aren’t always equipped to provide the proper coaching and guidance for these departments; therefore, this is where contracting with a support service company could be helpful. By contracting with a support service organization who has sufficient training, equipment, and technology, a facility can oftentimes improve their throughput and bed turnover times.

Having to reevaluate support services shouldn’t be looked at as a negative thing, to the contrary, it can actually positively influence and provide benefit to the healthcare facility.  As facility administrators begin sending out request for proposals (RFPs) to support service providers, it’s imperative to have methods in place to ensure that the partner that is chosen will be effective in developing a quality partnership while enhancing the environment of care. This will take the burden away from the hospital team of providing guidance and oversight to the support service departments. When moving forward with reviewing proposals and strategically planning for a new partnership, it is important to consider these three items before choosing a support service provider.

Look for a service provider that specializes within your specific industry.

The healthcare industry, like many other industries, has protocols, procedures, regulations, and guidelines in place to support a safe, healing environment and to reduce the risk of hospital acquired infections (HAIs) and other healthcare-related risks and complications. As you begin to review different proposals, seek out support service organizations who solely specialize within your industry. This will give assurance to the healthcare facility staff and the administration that the contractor understands the processes specific to the industry and that their team will be fully equipped, with the training and technology, to boost productivity and efficiency while also providing a safe and compliant work environment.  

Evaluate the leadership team and their ability to adapt to the needs and culture of your facility.

Be sure to take time to evaluate the leadership team that will be working at the facility.  Ask the appropriate questions, meet with the regional support team, and discuss how the goals of your facility can be achieved through the partnership.  Also, this is a time to determine if the leadership team meets the culture of your facility and will be adaptable to your needs.  Open the conversation up to understand how the transition will happen with the team and the technicalities involved in making the switch to ensure that your facility will be well-supported from the beginning of the partnership.

Check references and validate what you are being sold.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to check references. Before selecting a support services provider, every healthcare administration team should validate that what they are being sold is the same as what will actually be provided.  Request to visit the support service provider’s other facilities and meet with their teams to better understand their operational processes and determine if they are the appropriate fit.  Talk with the administration team to learn about the successes of the program and how it has benefited the facility since they developed the partnership.  Observe the interactions the team has with patients, review productivity standards and benchmarks for the facility, and analyze their technology.  Validating what is reflected on the RFP will help justify and give reassurance to the decision that is made.

As healthcare facilities evaluate new RFPs and determine the best fit for their facility, the incorporation of these three elements will help the administrators choose the best support service company that aligns with their goals.  The development of a true partnership will allow healthcare administrators to focus their time and energy on clinical needs, while giving trust to the contractors to handle every detail of the support service operations.  By seamlessly working together, support service providers and healthcare administrators can bring optimal efficiency and productivity to the facility. 

To learn more our approach to healthcare support services and how to qualify for a proposal, contact us.

Brian Weed has more than 25 years of experience in facilities management, environmental and food services, start-ups, progressive retail, sales, and entrepreneurial success in executive management. As HHS Managing Partner and Chief Growth Officer, Weed oversees sales and marketing efforts for all HHS service lines and subsidiaries. Previously, Weed served as President of HHS’ Central Group, managing partnerships throughout the Gulf Coast and Midwest, and supported six division vice presidents.