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The Importance of a Vendor-Neutral MSP in Healthcare


Managed service providers (MSP) have quickly become a mainstay in the U.S. healthcare space, with around 71% of all healthcare organizations utilizing them in some capacity. The benefits that an MSP provides have proven numerous, ranging from streamlining talent acquisition to decreasing procurement costs and beyond.

One aspect of MSPs often overlooked is vendor neutrality and its significance in how it can improve decision making, open new possibilities, and cut labor costs. Here, HWL's experts delve into what vendor neutrality really means and examine its impacts, particularly as it pertains to MSPs.


Vendor-Neutral MSP vs. the Master Vendor Model (MVM)

Vendor neutrality in an MSP means that the organization agrees to work with a network of preferred personnel suppliers, rather than one go-to. This sits in stark contrast when compared to other methods, such as the Master Vendor Model.

The Master Vendor Model, one of the older methods of healthcare recruiting, is when a singular MSP, itself a recruiting firm, prioritizes themselves as the main recruiters and outsources to other firms if they can't find the right fit. In a MVM relationship, healthcare companies are dependent on a single entity for their recruiting efforts — which, as you may guess, has some glaring downsides.

This may work for some companies, but it doesn't share the same sustainability, flexibility, and cost savings associated with vendor neutrality. Coupled with the industry's overreliance on contingent workers, it becomes clear just how limiting MVM is in terms of finding talented, qualified staff on short notice.

Broadening the candidate pool is the best way to find what you need quickly and for a reasonable price.


Benefits of a Vendor-Neutral MSP You Won't Find in MVMs

Unparalleled Flexibility

Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are extremely complex, with many moving parts, meaning it's often hard to stay nimble. But if the past few years have taught us anything, it's that inflexibility can become your downfall. 

Since it's only natural for health systems to have very diverse technology and staffing needs within each department, vendor-neutral MSPs have become critical toward responding to new challenges. 


  • Customizability: Your needs will change over time. Vendor neutrality can allow your organization to anticipate incoming changes and adapt quickly. Being able to add new vendors as needed or remove old ones that aren't performing well is critical in lowering bill rates and acquiring qualified talent.
  • Technology Agnosticism: Being untethered from exclusive partnerships allows your organization to access a wide range of technology platforms that suit your individual needs. It also helps you integrate emerging technologies as the industry continues to innovate.
  • Rapid Response Improvement: During volatile times like an outbreak, mass casualty event, or natural disaster, you're likely to need rapid response staffing. It's no secret that contingent workers tend to be more expensive than full-time employees, but when they are in limited supply, you're more likely to pay premium prices. Vendor neutrality broadens the candidate pool so you can not only find the right person for the job on short notice, but avoid overpaying for them too.


Cut Contingent Labor Costs

Contingent labor is one of the most significant expenses of any healthcare system today; and acquiring it through an MVM is bound to cost even more. As Forbes so succinctly puts it, "...most healthcare systems work with managed service providers, or MSPs, to oversee their contingent workforce programs. Many of these MSPs are owned or affiliated with a staffing agency – and prioritize keeping their own workers on billable engagements and maximizing margins."

Once again, this underscores the importance of vendor neutrality within MSPs. If an MVM has a strong profit motive, they are more likely to charge premium prices for talent that may or may not even fit the bill. Vendor-neutral MSPs, on the other hand, are not beholden to a singular agency, thus allowing you to find the right talent while also shopping the marketplace for low rates. 

It should never be assumed that contingent labor is a baked-in cost of doing business — it can be lowered through competitive sourcing and rate negotiations.


Sustainable Technology Infrastructure

Scalability and sustainability are key to fostering growth and success within your healthcare organization. And a vendor-neutral MSP can help you get there. Vendor management systems (VMS) often accompany MSPs and are critical in fulfilling your organization's technology needs both in the short term as well as the long.

Here are a few examples of how HWL's VMS solutions have helped clients:

  • Contract management: We engage all stakeholders to ensure competitive rate structures for contingent staff and establish a nationwide vendor panel.
  • Account management and visibility: From requisition to invoicing, our staffing experts and technology platform help manage vendors and talent throughout their entire lifecycle.
  • Business intelligence: Through real-time dashboards, you have transparency into utilization, vendor performance, and staff quality.


Objectivity in Decision Making

Finally, vendor neutrality offers objectivity in decision making. Being tied to one vendor that has a strong profit motive isn't going to look out for your organization's best interests; they will secure their bottom line. With a vendor-neutral MSP that has no ulterior motives, you will get more accurate data that isn't filtered through another company's motivations.

HWL believes that when all vendors are competing on a level playing field, you will lower bill rates and find higher quality of staff. And it has been proven in practice. One of our clients at Supplemental Health Care noted "HWL is different from other MSPs because they are truly vendor neutral. We made the strategic decision to prioritize filling jobs from our direct clients and vendor neutral MSPs like HWL. This strategy was already going well for us, and then COVID hit. That’s when our partnership really took off."


HWL Works to Ensure You Make the Most of Your Labor

HWL's vendor-neutral MSP and VMS have helped hundreds of healthcare organizations streamline their recruiting and staff management processes, thus lowering costs and expanding critical labor candidate pools. Our proprietary technology solutions are highly customizable to your organization's needs in order to meet unique workflows in every labor category.


Still not convinced? 

Read what our current clients have to say about our vendor neutrality, or get in touch to start a conversation!

January 04, 2024/By Trevor Strauss, FACHE
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Author: Trevor Strauss, FACHE

Trevor Strauss serves as a Vice President for HWL and has been designing new solutions and driving go to market strategy within healthcare workforce and human capital delivery for organizations since 2008. His expertise comes from having lead deal teams from inception through implementation across the entire labor continuum from search to enterprise-wide workforce and technology solutions. His passion is helping organizations reposition themselves to create the future they desire to meet their operational and financial goals, while ensuring patient care delivery. He received his BS from Lock Haven University, MBA from East Carolina University, and is Fellow of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is based out of Atlanta, GA and can be reached at tstrauss@hwlworks.com or 770-298-0122.
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