Setting expectations for courier services providers

Recent mergers and acquisitions have resulted in a complex process of integrating individual care sites into an organization’s central network system. With an emphasis to reduce overhead and operating costs, hospitals should focus on centralizing their freight spend to generate cost savings.

Organizations are generally aware of inbound and outbound shipment costs related to courier carriers such as UPS and FedEx, but may lack clarity on overall freight spend. For a holistic view of freight expenditure, data analytics can provide insight into the efficiency and cost effectiveness of different modes of shipment including inbound, outbound, same-day shipments, and large freight. As courier prices are often inconsistent, shipment consolidation and redistribution via centralized processes can help health systems manage nonregulated costs linked with moving shipments in and out of facilities.

Because of the sensitive nature of healthcare, courier services may need to offer a higher level of transparency than they might to their nonhealthcare clients, and hospitals and health systems should make their expectations for transparency clear when establishing contract terms. Some common expectations are:

Secure Tracking Capabilities:  All courier deliveries require transportation capabilities including real-time tracking technology, barcode scanning, and up-to-the-minute estimated time arrivals to allow both the dispatch staff and health system to be aware of the delivery status.

Managing Shipments:  Establish centralized courier processes through mode optimization—delivering each shipment according to its requirements—to identify the best delivery option and design effective delivery routes to avoid duplicate shipments and maximize resources. Directing a majority of shipments through the organizations’ freight management program offers efficiency and opportunities to generate savings.

Multi-route deliveries: Service providers should have the ability to create cost-effective multi-route deliveries and customized solutions instead of a single-size-fits-all service model.

Weekend and Overnight Delivery: Healthcare courier vendors must have delivery capabilities outside of normal business hours to facilitate patient needs.

Timely Delivery: On-time delivery is an important metric for all courier services, but is especially crucial for medical supplies to meet patient demand and improve quality of care.

HIPAA Compliance: HIPAA certification is required for medical courier vendors to secure patient sensitive data and personal health information. HIPAA breaches can result in expensive penalties depending on the level of negligence.

Licensing and Regulation Compliance:  Service vendors should have an Indirect Air Carrier license to deliver direct shipments and biological samples to both national and international customers.  Additionally, vendors must comply with state and federal laws, International Air Transport Association, and U.S. Department of Transportation regulations.

Temperature-Control Capabilities: Medical couriers must comply with an organization’s established criteria for transporting temperature-controlled shipments, including biological and other materials that require refrigeration, freezing, or warm/room temperature transport.

When outsourcing courier services, having a clear set of goals and expectations can maximize performance and cost containment. Awareness of best practices is a helpful first step, and it is also essential to have communication strategies in place so shareholders are aware of what they should anticipate from the courier service provider.