Contracts: It’s not just what is written — and even if it is written …

In recently reviewing our standard client contract, it occurred to me that the reality of the relationship is frequently not reflected in the contractual agreement. It is true that contracts are largely ignored until something of significance and out of the norm occurs. Having said that, nearly all MT contracts now allow a 30- or 60-day out. But the reality here is if a client decides to move to another solution, and sufficient notice is not given, do MT companies actually go through a litigation process? I haven’t heard of any.

NEMT CEO Linda Sullivan

Or payment terms — some hospitals are having more difficulty paying their bills on time. NEMT has never cut off a client for non-payment but I have heard of other services that have. Again, it’s clearly written but not always enforced.

As I stated in a recent “For The Record” article for which I was interviewed, and I paraphrase, it’s all about the relationship and we vendors value our clients on many levels, not just monetarily. Clear lines of communication and forthrightness can forestall having to revert to what suddenly seems onerous in the written agreement.

On the vendor side of meeting obligations, beyond meeting quality standards and turnaround times, it is difficult to quantify customer service. Anyone in a hospital who has to pick up the phone and discuss an issue knows how critical it is to have a live, knowledgeable voice on the other end of the line. Once that contract is signed, the go-live is accomplished, and things are up and running it’s all about the account manager or night supervisor on the other end of the line.

One of the beauties of running a smaller company, a staff of less than 500, is that lines of communication are shorter and it is easier to convey the philosophy coming straight down from the top.

Last, NEMT includes a “Good Faith” clause in our contracts. It doesn’t obligate anyone to anything except a resolve to approach the partnership in good faith. I have no idea if this has had a positive impact on our client relationships but is personally important to me that it be included.

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