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Are you prepared to win? ... or what you can learn about RFP responses from your competitors

RFP Strategy

Are you ready? Medicaid expansion, subsidized exchange populations and managed long-term care - all huge opportunities for Medicaid managed care plans. All are also huge targets for new competitors in your markets.

While incumbent health plans, have held a huge advantage in the past, that’s not necessarily the case now. Why? Because these new players are telling their stories in an exciting and compelling way that promises to deliver a better match to states' needs. They bring stories of innovation and best practices that take their proposal responses to a winning level.

What can you learn from these new entrants in your market?

Start early – Some of the most successful competitors begin their process of winning long before an RFP is issued. By meeting with state officials, elected representatives, providers and advocacy groups early, these savvy companies are able to establish their organization as interested and knowledgeable while listening closely to what each of the stakeholders wants in the program. They are also able to glean details related to satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) with incumbent health plans. This information will then be woven into their proposal demonstrating their understanding and capability to deliver what the state and associated stakeholders indicated.

Understand the competition – They take pains to understand each potential competitor's strengths and weaknesses. These could include the local Blues plan, newly formed ACOs, start-up investor-backed health plans, as well as the publicly-traded companies and the incumbents. They understand that all of these organizations are potential competitors.

Nail down your supporters – Whether it’s the governor's office, key legislators, state agency leadership or providers, these new entrants will have cultivated relationships that can help them win the bid. In many cases, they may have given grants to safety-net providers or advocacy groups, hired former government leaders and/or made strategic campaign donations. Incumbent plans sometimes have a tendency to overestimate the loyalty of their supporters – don’t be one of “those” plans.

Develop a compelling RFP response strategy – Your new competitors spend a great deal of time developing their strategy to best meet the state’s needs and counter their competitors’ responses. This strategy combines price, network, and clinical management programs with a heavy dose of innovation. They will establish some WOWs in key components of this strategy – new clinical programs, exciting technology, provider partnerships, expanded service areas – and back each up with data.

Utilize outside experts – Even the best organizations need outside perspectives to challenge common thinking, as well as, to bring in competencies that may be lacking in the organization. Few companies have the luxury of employing their own full-time proposal strategy and response teams. These experts go beyond pricing and actuarial services to include strategy, writing and editing specialities.

Establish a dedicated RFP response team – Your competitors will develop a comprehensive and fully committed team to develop their RFP responses. This team will include an executive lead, project manager, subject matter experts, writers, technical support and production staff. Timelines will be set and kept for draft development, compliance review, red team review, and production.

Maximize the impact of the proposal – Expect the competition to:

  • Lay out a clear and compelling story about how their organization can best meet the state's needs

  • Address every required element clearly and comprehensively

  • Make ZERO mistakes in required responses and data elements, as well as grammar and punctuation. All charts, graphs and other illustrations will be easy to understand and labelled appropriately

  • Turn it in on time with the required number of copies (both printed and electronic), as well as with the cover letter exactly as requested

Hit it out of the park during the finalist presentation – Your competitors will develop a professional presentation that re-emphasizes how they will meet (or exceed) every requested element and demonstrate the WOWs included in the proposal, often complemented with supporting video.

The next couple of years will see the largest financial and membership increase in the healthcare sector since the advent of Medicare and Medicaid. Everyone wants a piece (or a bigger piece) of the action.

Are you ready to take them on and prepared to win?

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