A physician group will generally receive a request for proposal (RFP) via two scenarios. The first is where a facility at which the group does not currently provide services has issued an RFP. This facility could either be considering alternatives to its current group, or it is a new facility. The second scenario is where the facility has issued an RFP for the facility at which the group currently provides services. Certainly, the prospect of securing additional business via new practice locations is much more encouraging than the prospect of losing one or more of your group’s current practice locations. In fact, receiving an RFP for your department may not bode well for the future of your group at that facility (or the future of the group period). The exception is when the RFP is being issued as part of a due diligence process with the facility having no real intention of replacing the current group. Alternatively, facilities sometimes issue an RFP for purposes of soliciting and negotiating a lower level of financial support and/or applying pressure on the group to improve in certain areas including, but not limited to the following:

  • More predictable hours of onsite coverage
  • Improved responsiveness to non-routine service requests
  • Higher concentrations of sub-specialty providers
  • Improved visibility/cooperation with other facility departments
  • Changes in group culture
  • Changes in group leadership/governance
  • More efficient and effective group handling of disruptive physicians
  • Development of programs to improve group and/or facility quality/efficiency, including patient/physician satisfaction surveys
  • New program development

For either scenario, the process of developing a response can be time consuming and stressful, especially if the group does not have some of the specified programs and policies in place as requested in the RFP and the timeframe to respond is limited. For example, McKesson recently assisted a large group in the mid-Atlantic respond to an RFP with only a two-week deadline. However, knowing in advance that the response deadline was shorter than the typical three to four weeks, McKesson and the group began developing the response well in advance of receiving the RFP. Given the extensiveness of the RFP, the early planning and development of responses proved beneficial. The group was awarded the contract, allowing them to expand and solidify their footprint in their market.


The purpose of this article is to both describe the typical components of an RFP and, more importantly, to encourage groups to develop programs and policies now, regardless of whether they anticipate receiving an RFP. By taking a proactive approach in developing and documenting these programs and policies, the typical scrambling that occurs during the RFP response process can be avoided leading to a more-efficient – and less stressful – RFP response process.   

It also demonstrates to the facility that your group has been proactive in developing programs/policies designed to improve their level of service and help ensure their goals and objectives are aligned with those of the facility. Further, the group can include the results of these programs and policies in their RFP response. The group can show how they used these results to improve their service levels, helping to prove their value.

Common Key Components

While the components of each RFP will certainly vary, outlined below are some of the more common components. 

Group History/Structure

  1. Describe the group’s history and provide an overview of the group’s organizational structure

    a. Ownership and history
    b. Vision/Mission statement
    c. Composition of group (e.g., number of board certified/board eligible providers)
    d. Group governance and leadership
    e. Management support (if any)

  2. List the group’s major accomplishments/initiatives over the past three to five years by service location and how these have contributed to higher quality/lower costs at the group’s current service locations. 
  3. What differentiates your group’s services from similar groups?

Group Stability/Implementation Plan

  1. Please describe the group’s recruiting efforts over the past three to five years, and how many providers have terminated their employment with the group during this same period?
  2. If the RFP is related to a new service location, how does the group anticipate recruiting and staffing for the new service location(s) and does this staffing plan include mid-level providers? 
  3. How would the group cover any periods experiencing a surge in volumes? 
  4. Who does the group anticipate assigning as the Medical Director (if the RFP is related to a new service location), and what are the minimum qualifications for any facility and/or system-wide directors? In addition, what are the qualifications for these roles? 
  5. What resources and training does the group provide the Medical Director(s) and other physicians to help ensure his/her success?

Group Involvement/Performance Improvement

  1. On what hospital committees do group members participate?
  2. Describe the group’s participation in community outreach programs.
  3. Describe the quality/cost-containment metrics measured by the group – both current and proposed – and how has the group improved their service levels based on these efforts.
  4. Indicate whether the group utilizes care pathways/clinical protocols and how does the group help ensure physician compliance. 
  5. Describe the CME requirements for group members. 
  6. Identify the channels used for communicating with group physicians. Describe how those communication channels improve the quality of patient care. 
  7. Provide copies of any patient/physician satisfaction surveys utilized by the group.
  8. Note the mechanism/structure the group has in place to address hospital complaints and potential disciplinary issues.
  9. Describe the group’s compliance program. 
  10. Describe the group’s current compensation methodology. What percentage of the provider’s income is at risk for meeting identified production/quality goals?
  11. How does the group measure individual provider performance, including any mid-level providers?


  1. Provide a summary of all litigation filed against the group/individual group members within the past three to five years.
  2. Has the group ever been investigated/indicted?
  3. Please provide a list of peer and facility references. 
  4. Please provide a copy of each physician’s CV.


Responding to an RFP, especially one that is related to a current facility of your group is typically emotional, disruptive, costly and time consuming. However, whether the RFP is for a potentially new service location or related to the group’s current location, developing a response will be much more efficient if the group has already prepared for this possibility. 

Additionally, by considering the above-referenced areas now versus only when an RFP is received, the group can begin (if they have not already) to develop those programs and policies designed to improve group performance. Consequently, the  group will now have the associated data and outcomes to support these initiatives at their disposal. The development and implementation of some of these programs could not only further entrench your group’s position at your current facility, but also mitigate the necessity of issuing an RFP for additional service locations since your group will be viewed as a progressive group that is constantly striving to improve their services and increase group volumes.

Author - Male

About the author

Rob Saunders, MHS is a Senior Consultant of McKesson Business Performance Services. Saunders specializes in client service for radiology, anesthesiology and pathology groups. He with a focuses on financial and strategic analyses and facilitates group mergers – negotiating exclusive contracts with hospitals, conducting practice reviews and feasibility studies, fee analyses, revenue forecasting, and managed care reviews. Saunders has been with McKesson for more than 20 years and has served in various roles including Regional director Director of Client Services and Director of Client Development.