Customer Service

Idiocy of the RFP Process for Professional Services


Some hospital attorneys and, therefore, some hospital administrators, believe that every contract for professional services should be subject to a request for proposal (RFP) process. That’s ridiculous.

First, it assumes that services are commodities. Despite the fact that many believe that they themselves are a commodity, neither they, nor their services are. Not every baseball player on the Dodgers has the same level of skill; neither does every physician within a group or across groups. And, some teams, both in baseball and in medicine, are simply better than others.

Second, it assumes that the words and numbers on the response to the RFP, and the slickness of the production of an oral presentation, are truly determinative of both quality of care and the level of personal interaction that one practice or group provides and the other, or others, never will. Or perhaps it’s only about the money. If so, just say so. But that confuses money with value.

Third, it’s the height of bureaucracy, work for work’s sake, no value added. There is a tremendous cost, in money, in time, in effort, and in emotion, put into an RFP response. Is the RFP just the papering over of an already made decision? Is the RFP just a tool to muscle down the demands of the incumbent provider? Or is it a real search for the best provider at the proper value level run through a process that is itself defective?

When all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Here’s to RFPs.

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