Healthcare professionals are in the business of helping people, but they are simultaneously running a business. Responding to RFPs is a routine process. Due to heavy regulations, a healthcare RFP is much more involved than an average RFP.
Government RFPs are perhaps the closest comparison when you look at the high level of demands and requirements that come into play. Healthcare RFPs have compliance requirements in the structure of the RFP as well as pertaining to services rendered. Responses to compliance questions can get fairly complicated, since we’re talking about another person’s life potentially being on the line.
Common challenges you’ll face when writing healthcare RFP responses are staying compliant, finding content, and meeting deadlines. When you master these key practices, you’ll be on your way to winning your next healthcare RFP.
Healthcare RFP response practice #1: Compliance
Compliance is something you will run into on many levels when submitting a proposal in the healthcare industry. Each healthcare RFP issuer has their own rules about how the proposal should be organized. The healthcare industry is also riddled with numerous regulations.
“Next to hands-on patient care, no part of healthcare carries as much importance as protecting a patient’s personal information from a breach of privacy.” – AAPC
Even though it’s a given in your industry, it’s all too easy to forget an important statement about being compliant with current regulations on both federal and state levels. Although healthcare RFPs typically have a checklist of items to be delivered in a proposal, RFP responders often rush and they overlook asking for licensure and proof of regulatory compliance.
Let’s say a pharmacy is looking for a new telemedicine vendor. The pharmacy may be in multiple states, but they need a telemedicine vendor for one location. The RFP responder is located at headquarters in a different location and forgets to add a request for proof of compliance to HIPAA laws at that particular location.
Organizations that address this compliance need are likely to be considered over others that miss the requirement. Due to privacy laws, the privacy and security of data are extremely important in healthcare and should be handled with care when you’re submitting an RFP. Internal regulations also tend to be strict in the healthcare industry. So, know the standards of the organization you are responding to.
Compliance with the specific RFP will vary depending on who is requesting services. Governmental agencies tend to be very formal, as do larger healthcare operations. Smaller businesses may be a bit laxer and request less information. Either way, always follow guidelines to a T or you risk losing the opportunity.
Inevitably you will repurpose historic responses, but you need to use caution with the information you choose to reuse. When it comes to checking on location-specific regulations, be sure that all of the laws followed in previous RFPs are still valid before adding them into your new healthcare RFP.
How RFP software helps you stay compliant
RFP software helps you stay on top of compliance requirements. Within your answer library, you can store all of your most updated responses. Search functionality, along with tagging and starring systems, help you quickly select the response, update as needed, and include into the response. Besides being a huge time-saver, RFP software helps you check all of the compliance boxes when you submit an RFP for healthcare.
Healthcare RFP response practice #2: Content
Your RFP responses must be in line with the expectations outlined by the issuer. Content is usually stated in a neutral tone for healthcare RFPs. Your content should enlighten the reader about how your organization will do the job better than another organization.
As we mentioned in the compliance section moments ago, It is perfectly acceptable to use information from earlier RFPs. But…cookie-cutter entries are easily spotted and frowned upon, which is why customizing your RFP responses is a must. When you’re tailoring content, reference the rules and regulations—and internal standards—of the issuer.
Everything you need to tailor a proposal should be in the RFP guidelines. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to reach out and contact someone at that organization. Missing information will put you out of the competition for the bid. So, remember the phrase “it doesn’t hurt to ask” when you need clarification from the issuer. If you’re still unsure if you are missing something from your healthcare RFP response, this handy checklist on USAC.org is a great resource.
How RFP software helps you find content
At its core, RFP software is a content management system, helping you locate relevant documents and information. One major complaint in the healthcare RFP response process is that subject matter experts (SMEs) are frequently called upon to answer the same questions over and over again. An answer library makes this information easily accessible, so SMEs can step in during the review cycle to swiftly revise and approve RFP responses.
Healthcare RFP response practice #3: Deadlines
Deadlines on any front can be hard to fulfill, especially when you are in such a fast-paced industry like healthcare. RFP responses usually have hard deadlines that cannot be extended, and they must be prioritized.
An upset Reddit user posted this quote about missing a deadline: “Bid writer missed RFP deadline. I’m potentially out $20K in commission over 3 years.” Responding to RFPs should never come down to the blame game. The better move is to be proactive and develop an RFP response process.
Healthcare RFPs are often lengthy and require much detail, because of the many fun regulations we already discussed. All the more reason to come up with an RFP strategy well before you receive one in your inbox.
Having a dedicated RFP response process brings everything together in time. By defining the steps and roles, you clearly allocate work to specialized people on your RFP response team. Requesting the first draft long before the proposal is due allows you time to revise, revise, and revise some more.
Unsurprisingly, a proper review cycle is often a missed step in any RFP submission because of time constraints. When you’re responding to a healthcare RFP, there are too many industry-related regulations involved to skip this important step. Go through everything with a fine-toothed comb to be sure you hit all of the talking points.
How RFP software helps you meet deadlines
RFP software helps you get a handle on the RFP deadline. You are able to map out a timeline—when to start response drafts and when to have reviews completed and approved—all viewed easily within a project overview dashboard. By speeding up the information gathering process, you actually have time to polish your RFP deliverable to increase your chances of winning the bid.
Healthcare RFP responses require extra care when it comes to addressing the regulatory environment around the industry. Whether you are new to submitting proposals in the healthcare realm or a longtime vet who has responded to hundreds of healthcare RFPs, establishing an RFP response process and seeking out the right-fit RFP software will help you along the way.
Compliance, content, and deadlines are easy to handle with RFPIO. Let’s work together on improving your RFP response process, shall we?