Four Questions to Ask When Switching Biomedical Waste Vendors
When it comes to biomedical waste management in Canada, healthcare facilities big and small work with third-party vendors to dispose of waste safely and compliantly. These services are typically contracted on a multi-year timeline, and different providers offer different levels of service.
Finding a reliable partner that works with your needs is critical given the long-term commitment and potential liabilities associated with biomedical waste disposal. That has only become more apparent in recent years. As pressures from supply chain shortages, pricing changes, and unprecedented service strain around the country rapidly transform the industry, it’s more important than ever to choose your partner carefully.
Unfortunately, for smaller facilities in particular, there is sometimes a perceived lack of options among biomedical waste vendors. That sense of inevitability – “there’s only one choice, anyway” – can lead to getting locked into bad contracts with poor service and no outs.
But, there are alternatives to be found, and as a customer it’s important to understand what’s in your control during the vendor selection process. So, before locking into your next long-term contract, make sure you’re evaluating every aspect of your waste management provider – from service standards to pricing structure to issue resolution, among other details – to ensure you find a partner you can rely on.
HERE ARE FOUR QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE MAKING A COMMITMENT
Do you handle all waste removal services from cradle to grave?
In Canada, the generator of waste is responsible for the waste they produce from “cradle to grave,” meaning they are liable for the waste until such time that it is disposed of. So, if your waste management provider makes a mistake, you’re responsible for the damages. Having a biomedical waste partner that assumes full responsibility for biomedical waste pickup, transport, treatment, and disposal is critical to avoiding that liability.
Many providers are not capable of managing the entire process, requiring third-party support for at least one stage. That not only adds additional risk, but can also increase disposal costs. Conversely, some larger vendors may claim that they are the only one capable of incinerating waste in Canada (a requirement for certain wastes), thus misleading potential customers concerned with cradle to grave management.
The reality is that several providers, including Daniels Health, can manage the variety of treatment processes needed for complete cradle to grave services. When evaluating potential vendors, this is a critical place to start – both to ensure your partner is capable of fulfilling your needs without third-party support and to assess how they position those capabilities within the broader industry.
How am I being billed/charged for your service?
There are several different ways to charge for waste management services. Some providers bill on time-bound increments (e.g., a flat monthly fee) while others charge on a per-service basis, either per pick-up or per weight.
There are drawbacks and benefits to each model, but the goal should be to avoid unnecessary charges where possible. For example, if you are a small quantity waste generator that just needs a pick-up once every six months, you should not agree to pay a monthly service fee.
At Daniels, we work with you to model the expected costs before signing an agreement. With this approach, we can guarantee that sharps disposal costs won’t rise further than agreed upon as long as that the sharps volume data provided in the initial Cost Benefit Analysis included ALL containers used for sharps disposal. Costs can rise however if the institution’s workload rises or procedures involving sharps change.
How will this program be implemented?
Healthcare facilities require coordinated logistics to function smoothly, so anytime something as significant as a waste management program is changed, it’s important to ensure that the implementation will not negatively impact core functions.
When considering your options, it’s important to talk through how installation and deployment works and to understand what commitments your vendor is making. For example, at Daniels Health, we have a multi-step implementation process to ensure the best outcomes for your facility. This is what it typically looks like for large and medium quantity generators of waste:
- Preliminary meetings and mobilization strategy
- Site assessment and ward walks
- Installation preparation and processing
- Stock and service scheduling
- System and support orientation
- Account optimisation
Ongoing support, strategic planning, and continual improvement
By ensuring that your vendor is capable of not just setting up your waste management program, but analyzing your results and optimising the process over time, you can reduce the total waste you produce, lowering labor and time costs.
How are issues resolved?
Last but not least, it’s inevitable that there might be some unforeseen challenges like a missed pick-up that require resolution. If something goes wrong, being able to speak to a dedicated customer service representative is a must.
That’s why it’s important to ensure you have a clear understanding of a vendor’s customer service support capabilities and how they handle issue resolution. For example, in the extremely rare event that a container is delivered to you, and you believe it does not meet the quality guarantee that Daniels offers, a full internal investigation into the incident is opened. This investigation entails follow up from customer service management, transportation management, operations management, and quality management departments as applicable. Full review and findings of the concerns are logged, and a comprehensive report is provided to you.
Finding a Partner You Can Rely On
Healthcare waste management is complex. Balancing safety, efficiency, costs, and compliance requires a detailed approach tailored to your facility’s needs. That’s why, more than ever, it’s critical to find a reliable partner that works with you to develop a program that makes sense for your facility.
When you’re next looking to switch your healthcare waste management provider, these four questions are a good place to start to ensure you’re finding the optimal partner. Try them out by giving us a call.