The “cost to do business” doesn’t have to be so expensive for government-sponsored health plans. Most payers are overspending on their annual print and fulfillment budget for member communications by 10-15 percent. For plans with 250,000 members, for example, cutting a 15 percent overspend factors to saving $1.2 million a year.

There are a number of ways health plans can cut unnecessary expenses, both before hiring a print and fulfillment vendor and during the course of the relationship. The key is knowing where to look.

This blog entry, Part 2 of 2, shares what you can do while you’re working with a print and fulfillment vendor:

Be strategic in how you handle the change order process.

Change orders can get very expensive, and unfortunately, they are going to happen. In Part 1, we covered tips on how to mitigate some potential errors, such as getting your materials in the best possible order before they go to the printer. But unexpected things are going to happen – you must plan and prepare for change orders.

Most importantly, always budget for change orders. Pull print and fulfillment orders from the past couple years and calculate the average amount you spent on change orders. Then include that amount in the budget for your next job.

Compare the vendor’s track record to the Service Level Agreement.

Presuming you followed the suggestion in Part 1 to set a Service Level Agreement that ensures the vendor has the flexibility to accommodate unpredictable timelines, regularly review the SLA to ensure the vendor is meeting your deadlines.

A vendor’s ability to meet its Service Level Agreement is a direct indication of its performance. Was the vendor able to meet your deadlines despite only having two days to complete your last print job, as outlined in the SLA? If not, the vendor may not be the best fit for your needs.

Hold Quarterly Business Reviews and challenge the vendor to add value.

Once a quarter, meet with your print and fulfillment vendor to debrief and discuss potential areas of savings. Talk about what went well and what didn’t go well during the past quarter, and what should be done differently in the future.

Don’t be afraid to ask your vendor how they can add more value. For example, pose the following question and see what kind of answer you get: “If I told you we need to reduce our spend by 10 percent, what would you do to make that happen?”

If the vendor is truly your partner, they will continually look for and suggest solutions to achieve better integration of workflows, which will translate into savings for your health plan.