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Third Party Administrators (TPAs) are a great resource for employers, effectively acting as an agent on behalf of companies they serve. The TPA’s role often includes establishing and maintaining connections with applicable vendors an employer needs to run a successful drug testing program. These vendors include sample collection companies, testing laboratories, and medical review service providers. Third Party Administrators may perform other functions as well: for example, record management and random selections.
Each individual TPA may differ greatly in the services provided. Some may offer extensive lists of services for employers to take advantage of, while others may offer a very narrow selection. If the latter is the case, a TPA may want to consider offering additional services, but it is important for any TPA to examine the pros and cons associated with additional options. In this article we will look at some ancillary services a TPA may consider adding, along with the positive and negative impacts those additions may have.
Offering multiple services in a single location is greatly beneficial to employers. Time and money are key concerns for any employer, and minimizing the time associated with a drug testing program can be highly attractive. Some TPAs may only operate as a sample collection facility, but there is far more to drug testing than simply collecting a sample. Offering collection services beyond normal business hours is a simple adjustment that can make a large impact on whether employers’ needs are met. After-hours and mobile collection options are not only convenient for employers, but also relatively easy for a TPA to accommodate as very little additional training is required.
Third Party Administrators may consider offering services that are not specific to sample collections but related to program management as a whole. For example, many employers require their supervisor personnel to complete some form of supervisor training. Whether training is required at a federal, state, contractual or policy level, offering some form of training can be beneficial. Taking this a step further, TPAs can offer tailor-made training options to meet employers’ specific needs.
Additionally, many employers will be subjected to a program audit, sometimes on a regular basis. Mock auditing can assist employers by ensuring their record retention practices, random selections, and other program components meet desired expectations, ultimately preparing an employer for a true audit.
Thinking Outside the Drug Testing Box
Although TPAs are commonly associated with drug testing programs, other services associated with hiring can be considered as well. Finger printing and background checks are common practices related to onboarding. Offering these additional services may push a TPA to the top of the list for employers to choose from.
Going a step further, occupational health and wellness services can be considered as well. Pre-hire physicals, fitness for duty evaluations, audiograms, pulmonary function tests, x-rays, vaccines, and any other medical processes associated with onboarding would only be more beneficial to employers. Many of these services require specialized education, equipment, and training so it may not be realistic for a TPA to suddenly offer occupational health services. However, a TPA could partner with an occupational health provider on behalf of their clients. For instance, if an applicant shows up for a drug screen and completes the process, the TPA can issue them a voucher for medical services at the partnered medical clinic. This voucher would inform the applicant where to go, but also inform the clinic what services are to be rendered. Although this negates the single stop idea, this alternative does provide a streamlined process for both the applicant and employer.
Lastly, DNA testing is a service TPAs can consider adding to their menu as it naturally goes together with drug testing. The sample collection process for DNA testing is very similar to the collection process for drug testing. Many laboratories who perform drug testing for TPAs are also equipped to handle DNA testing, making it a relatively simple service to add.
Adding depth to a service menu benefits the TPA as well as the employers they serve. For employers, finding a service provider who meets all their program needs, and maybe a little extra, is the ideal situation as it minimizes the overall impact on their production and bottom line. For a TPA, additional services lead to increased revenue, greater industry exposure, and likely a boost in reputation. Providing flexibility to additional service options is a bonus as it does not limit employers by forcing them to stick within a specified box. Employers want to know that their TPA is willing to accommodate their unique needs, and offering this option is a mutual benefit.
Time and money concerns are not specific to employers. Third Party Administrators are a business as well, and adding new service options will come with some sort of cost. Additional training will be necessary to ensure TPA personnel are adequately versed in providing the services offered. Hiring additional staff may be necessary. Purchasing or leasing new equipment may be required depending on the services being offered, naturally requiring more square footage. These examples almost guarantee a financial commitment from the TPA. It is up to the TPA to decide whether these costs are outweighed by the overall benefits.
The aforementioned one-stop shop is ideal for employers, and TPAs can work toward this goal by continuing to add service options for their clients. Prior to adding a new service, a TPA should identify all the costs associated with the new offering and calculate the potential cost as well as the potential upside. TPAs who are willing to accommodate the specific needs of each of their clients will reap the benefits of a more extensive service menu.
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