5 Things Health Plans Need From Their Print & Fulfillment Vendor

There is a lot to consider when evaluating a print and fulfillment vendor, especially as we navigate a new normal through the recent COVID-19 pandemic. From marketing materials, ID cards, EOBs and invoices, to handbooks, provider directories and Annual Notice of Change (ANOC) mailings, your health plan has an endless list of ongoing, complex and tedious print and fulfillment projects that must get done the right way and on deadline.

Whether you’re a small or mid-sized health plan, have acquired a new health plan or recently experienced a significant amount of growth, you will need a print and fulfillment vendor who has the experience, the technology and the systems in place to manage all of your projects without any hassle or hidden fees.

When you evaluate a vendor, what questions should you ask to find the right one for your needs? How can you make sure you’re getting the best ROI? Read on for the answers to these questions in the 5 things every vendor should offer you.

1. Experience with plans of all sizes

When you look at print and fulfillment vendors, it’s crucial to consider companies who work with health plans of all sizes, from plans with as little as 200,000 members to those with upwards of 10 million members.

If you are a small to medium sized health plan, you don’t want your ANOC mailings to be outsourced or given less priority because the vendor has larger plans to support. It’s also important that ensure your vendor handles all of the work on-site themselves rather than outsourcing it to a third-party print shop.

2. HIPAA-compliant technology

Print and fulfillment is a complex process, so the vendor you choose should use a technology platform that enables them to cross reference your member list with the United States Postal Service, manage and organize documents, view and archive images and track both individual print jobs and mailings. A Vendor should use technology that is HIPAA compliant and that allows for regulated data cleansing when required.

Perhaps most importantly, is that you need a vendor who uses a web-based platform that allows you to interactively communicate with them. With a web-based platform, you can dictate business processes without having to rely on emails, conference calls or in-person meetings. You can make changes when it’s convenient for you and you can create if/then parameters so that junior members of your team cannot make significant changes without authorization.

3. Transparent pricing

If a vendor offers a price that seems too good to be true, it could be a red flag that they may not be able to deliver the results you’re looking for. Low-cost vendors usually do not have the experience necessary to handle a large volume of ANOC mailings. It’s also unlikely that they understand compliance standards, so you run the risk of costly penalties.

Vendors with an initial low price are also more apt to tack on additional fees for set-up, ongoing management and technology and they often lack value-added services and infrastructure, like business account management tools.

Although savings is always attractive, look for a vendor who offers transparent pricing and all-in-one packages that will save you a ton of money and hassle in the long run.

4. 360-degree tools
Now more than ever, a positive customer experience should be top priority for each step of your member’s journey. Making sure your call center, print and fulfillment operations work together is no exception.

Say for example, your member receives a statement about what their plan covered and their out-of-pocket expense for a recent visit. Although it may clearly state “don’t call,” some of them do because they think it’s an EOB or a bill. If your print and fulfillment vendor is outsourced and your call center is handled internally or you simply do not have systems in place that allow the account manager to communicate with the call center, it can create confusion for your members and affect your HEDIS scores and STAR ratings.

Yet a vendor who uses an internet-based storage archive and retrieval tool can allow your customer service department to access one document or groups of documents within 24 hours of the mailing to better serve your members. This type of tool also allows your customer service representatives to email documents directly to members and use it as a pre-audit verification system and long-term storage solution. This tool can also allow your clients to view the electronic version of the offline fulfillment instantly upon the fulfillment processing.

Choose a fulfillment vendor who has the full end-to-end capabilities from print and finishing to insert and mail that are all executed on-site keeps the protected health information (PHI) responsibility in one place.

5. Business continuity

The recent pandemic has affected all aspects of our personal and business lives. Therefore, it’s important to ask a print, fulfillment and call center vendor how it has affected their ability to meet their customers’ needs. Many vendors have moved to a work-at-home solution. You should ask specific questions about performance levels and, more importantly, how they remain compliant with HIPAA and other regulations to protect personal information.

Choosing a print and fulfillment vendor doesn’t have to be an arduous process. When you know what questions to ask and the solutions you need, you’ll find the perfect partner who can help you streamline and grow your business in no time.

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